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TOP 10 TECH BREAKTHROUGHS FOR 2012 




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58 Strangers in a 
Strange Land After 
decades of twisting reality 
at will, sci-fi screenwriters 
are switching up the 
formula and integrating 
more real science into the 
genre. Plus: PM's highly 
subjective list of the most 
(and least) accurate sci-fi 

flicks. BY DAVID KUSHNER 

64 The Outsiders 

Pulling away from typical 
automotive segments, 
several new rides promise 
to kick boring like a bad 
driving habit with innova- 
tive takes on size, shape, 
and power. We leave our 
preconceived notions at the 
curb and put five spunky 
"not sedans" to the test. 

BY BEN STEWART 



70 Steel & Snow Able to scale steep terrain and take on deep 
powder, the mountain snowmobile is adrenaline on tracks. 
Some skiers hate the machine, while others put it to good use. 
PM heads to Wyoming for a frigid dose of the latest trend in 
winter adventure. BY JERRY BEILINSON 



The Polaris 800 Pro-RMK snowmobile with an aftermarket 
BoonDocker turbo gets you major air time— if you have 
skills like rider Dan Adams's. 




It's not all-out war— yet. Digital spies, the majority reportedly in China, are tapping into our nation's most sensitive information 
in attacks that could compromise the security of everyone online. Illustration by Nathan Fariss. 



PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID STUBBS 



4 JANUARY 2012 | POPI 



DEPARTMENTS 



In Every Issue 8 How to Reach Us 9 Letters 10A This Is My Job 



Reno Air Race Crash Eleven 
fatalities put air-show safety in the 
spotlight. Plus: A massive sunken- 
treasure discovery, video created by 
the human mind, and super-efficient 
deep-sea wind turbines. 



Upgrade 

Out With the Old Three demolition 
tools to make way for the New Year. 
Plus: Wireless speakers undergo 
the PM Abusive Lab Test, how to 




You don't need a microscope to know that gadgets 
are filth magnets. But one recent study found that 
92 percent of cellphones were contaminated with 
potentially narmjul bacteria. " —digital clinic, page so 



PopMech 




Tech 

77 Removing Yourself From 
the Internet How to regain 
control of— or even erase, if so 
desired— your online identity, 
one bit of personal informa- 
tion at a time. 



80 Digital Clinic Clean your 
gadgets without damaging 
them— and without spend- 
ing a fortune. Plus: Fix odd- 
looking motion on your TV. 



Home 

83 Simply Perfect A little two- 
door cabinet gives big, with 
loads of storage room and 
smart looks. 

Homeowners Clinic How 
to put a wobbly chair on firm 
footing. Plus: Two surefire 
ways to remove stubborn 
rocks from the yard. 
90 PM Saturday Our DIY 
industrial lamp withstands all 
sorts of shop abuse but turns 
on with just a touch. 

Auto 

93 Running on (Natural) 

Gas Switching from gasoline 
power is easy, but is it worth 
the expense? 

97 Car Clinic How to rotate 
tires without messing up the 
pressure-monitoring system. 
Plus: Wipe away greasy 
interior buildup, and more. 



Columns 



43 The College Bubble With tuition costs and institutional debt on the rise, 
Glenn Harlan Reynolds takes a hard look at the value of a college education. 

46 10 Tech Terms for 2012 PM rounds up the computing, medical, and transportation 
tech concepts of today and tomorrow into one tidy cheat sheet. 



PopMech App 



M£ 






11 Are the Reno Air Races Doomed? 64 5 Fun, Affordable New Coupes 
77 Delete Yourself From the Internet 52 Digital Spies 




4 



Check out our latest iPad 
edition. Just open iTunes, 
go to the Store, and search 
for "Popular Mechanics 
Magazine." 



PHOTOGRAPH BY DEVON JARVIS 



©REAT THlbfGS CAN COME OUT OF SWEAT. 

DON'T LET ODOR STOP YOU. 



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6 JANUARY 2012 I P0PULARMECHANICS.COM 



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POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



AUTOMOTIVE+ SCIENCE+ TECHNOLOGY+ H0ME+ HOW-TO CENTRAL+ VIDEO 



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LONG LIVE 
THE PURSUIT. 
LONG LIVE 
IMAGINATION. 




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top 10 movie cars Our list of the most 
memorable cars in cinematic history includes 
007's Aston Martin DB5, the 1968 Ford 
Mustang from Bullitt, and the Batmobile from 
Christopher Nolan's Batman films. See if your 
favorite made the lineup. 
popularmechanics. com/moviecars 




laser weapons We catch up with eight new 
military laser technologies, such as the plane- 
mounted version above, to see which ones are 
close to becoming battlefield-ready— and which 
are still sci-fi. 
popularmechanics. com/laserweapons 

fix it before it breaks Crumbling masonry, 
stubborn sliding doors, cracks in the driveway— 
your home is full of little problems that could 
soon become big ones and require major repairs. 
Make these fixes now and spare yourself huge 
headaches later. 
popularmechanics. com/9fixes 

For extra photos and video from our 
editors, follow Popular Mechanics on 
Twitter at &PopMech, on Facebook at 
facebook.com/popularmechanics, and on 
Tumblr at popmech.tumblr.com. 



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8 JANUARY 2012 



POPULARMECHANICS.COM 




Greg Schroll won a PM Breakthrough 
Award in 2009 for his remote- 
control robotic ball driven by internal 
gyroscopes. He said he dreamed of 
air-dropping 1000 of the bots into 
some forbidden zone, where "they'd 
bounce and start collecting informa- 
tion." As unlikely as that may sound, 
Schroll is now working on improve- 
ments that show the bot's potential to 
scour such places as hazardous waste 
sites, war zones, or even somewhere 
out of this world. - ALLIE HAAKE 



PM: Your focus has changed since 
building your first robot. How so? 

GS: Our focus was on a much smaller 
ball. Now we're applying what we 
learned in 2010 to build larger 
gyroscopes that work in wheeled or 
track vehicles, or in legged and bipedal 
robots. We're developing a technology 
that could be applied to a product. 
PM: How has the development 
process been going? 
GS: It's rigorous. We've been doing 
dynamic computer modeling, but that 
doesn't really tell you how the device 
will fail. So we built a containment 
vessel out of concrete and steel rebar 
with a bullet-resistant window, and 
we're trying to spin the flywheel as fast 
as possible, until it explodes. We need 
to know how fast we can spin these 
things. The next step is getting funding. 
Our ultimate goal is appealing to 
someone in the military— or even at 
NASA— who's interested in using the 
technology in their systems. 



Popular Mechanics 

JameS B. MeigS Editor-in-Chief; Editorial Director, Men's Enthusiast Group 



# 



Executive Editor David Dunbar 
Design Director Michael Lawton 

Editorial 

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Senior Correspondents Davin Coburn, Alex Hutchinson, 

Erik Sofge, Logan Ward, Jeff Wise 

Pyrotechnics & Ballistics Editor William Gurstelle 

MythBusting Editors Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage 

Garage Proprietor Jay Leno 

Resident Contrarian Glenn Harlan Reynolds 

Contributing Editors Andrew English, John Galvin, 

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John Pearley Huffman, Dan Koeppel, 

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Contributing Photographers & Illustrators Chris Buck, 
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P0PULARMECHANICS.COM I JANUARY 2012 9 



m »• 



LETTERS 




Send a hi-res photo of yourself 
with the latest issue (plus your 



Mac vs PC: The Debate Goes On 

Thanks for the story "PM Lab Test: Mac 
vs PC" (November) comparing the two 
computers. As a technician who works 
on both, I think you should consider 
maintenance and repair costs in this 
type of review. For instance, when a PC 
battery goes bad, you just swap in 
a new one. But replacing the battery 
on a MacBook Pro requires disassembly, 
a difficult task that forces most people 
to pay an Apple dealer to get the job 
done. Also, Mac users face excessive 
price markups on upgrades. Don't get 
me wrong, Macs are good for what they 
do — but upkeep can be costly. 

JARRETT S. WARNER WARNER ROBINS, GA 

For years, I've felt that Macs and PCs are 
more similar than different. But the 
beauty of the PC is the range of choices — 
styles, components, price points. So why 
the Pavilion DM4 PC for the comparison 
tests? There are some interesting differ- 
ences in DM4 competitors that could 
turn the tests around. For example, the 
Toshiba Satellite E205 is a hot rod in cer- 
tain tests compared with the DM4. The 
point is, there's choice, choice, choice. 
That's the beauty of the PC — and at sig- 
nificant savings over a comparable Mac. 

RICK USACK KENT, WA 

Private Space Fanfare 

I was thrilled to see the SpaceX Dragon 
capsule and Falcon 9 rocket on Novem- 
ber's "20 Bold Ideas" cover. However, my 
space balloon popped when I found a 
mere one-pager within the huge 2011 
Breakthrough Awards feature. Please, 
give us more SpaceX! And while you're at 
it, more Sierra Nevada Corp., Bigelow 
Aerospace, Armadillo Aerospace, and 
Virgin Galactic. Space exploration isn't 
just for governments and military con- 
tractors anymore. It's for all of us. 

DAVE DRESSLER OCEANSIDE, CA 

editor's note: We agree completely. The 
rise of private spaceflight is a thrilling, ever- 
changing adventure story. We've reported 
on SpaceX before— from September 2009 's 
"The Rocket Men " to the May 201 1 cover 
story, "The Early Adopter's Guide to Space 



&r\v%Uie%r*V% name ' c ity> ar, d state, and a short 
r Opi v lG C il note about why you love PM) to 
popularmechanics@hearst.com. 
See some of our favorites at popular 
mechanics.com/readerphotos. 




Travel" — and we'll keep a close eye on pri- 
vate space companies as they continue to 
make aerospace history. Check out popular 
mechanics. com for the latest, including a 
detailed look at the ongoing battle over the 
level of NASA control of spacecraft designs. 

THE EDITORS, POPULAR MECHANICS 

All Revved Up 

You left out an excellent car in your story 
"Steal This Car ... For the Price of a 



Loaded Camry" (November). The Mit- 
subishi 3000GT VR-4, produced from 
1991 to 1999, is the same price or less 
than the cars you featured, and most 
come with a twin-turbo V-6 engine, 
leather seats, active suspension, all- 
wheel drive, and a five-gear manual 
transmission. The car handles well in 
corners, does to 60 in 5.5 seconds, and 
has a top speed of 155 mph. It would 
have fit well in your article! 

BRETT MILLIKEN FORT COLLINS, CO 




WRITE TO US Send email to popuiarmechanics@hearst.com and posted mail to 300 W. 57th Street, New York, NY 10019. Please 
include your full name, address, and phone number (even if you correspond by email). All letters may be published and are subject to 
editing for length, style, and format. SUBSCRIBE Go to subscribe.popularmechanics.com. 




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NEWS TRENDS BREAKTHROUGHS 



Cj Did this notch cause a tragedy? 

Photos taken just before the 
accident show that an elevator trim 
tab is missing from the airplane. At 
high speeds the trim tab can vibrate 
violently and break; without it the 
airplane could lose control. 



1 



0? 



Tech Watch 




WHAT WENT WRONG: 



Reno Air Race Crash 

AFTER A MIDAIR MALFUNCTION LED TO MULTIPLE 

FATALITIES, PM EXPLORES WHETHER SAFETY CHANGES 

CAN SAVE AIR RACING. BY JEFF WISE 




he crowd gasps as the wayward air-race plane 
banks ominously toward the viewing stands. 
Moments later, the 6-ton World War II P-51D fighter 
plummets to the ground, killing 10 spectators and 
pilot Jimmy Leeward and injur- 
ing 74. The crash on Sept. 16 at 
the National Championship Air 

Races in Reno, Nev., threw the future of the 

47-year-old competition into question. 

Leeward's heavily modified P-51. The 

Galloping Ghost, failed while traveling at nearly 

500 mph, far faster than it was originally 

designed to go. The aircraft's nose suddenly 

pitched upward, the motion causing a spike in 

g-forces. This could have been enough to cause 

Leeward to black out; he is not visible in the 




cockpit in the video of the incident. The airplane then rolled and 
dove toward the ground at full power. 

Photos and video of the tragedy also indicate a possible cause: 
Part of the tail called an elevator trim tab, which helps stabilize 
the aircraft, is missing. If that part broke off, it 

] could have caused the plane to lurch into a 
vertical climb. 
No matter the cause, the air races at Reno 
are now facing scrutiny. "It doesn't take a 
rocket scientist to see that with the planes so 
close, there's a possibility of danger," says 
Andy Chiavetta, a mechanic on one of the 
planes competing that day. "In the pits, we all 
know that there's risk, and so do 95 percent of 
the people in the stands. It's a part of racing." 
NEXT: HOW AIR RACING CAN BE SAFER -> 



Movie stunt pilot Jimmy Leeward, the 74-year-old who flew The Galloping Ghost, was a favorite at the venerable air races at Reno. 



POPULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 11 



TECH WATCH 



Saving Reno 



AIR RACES THRIVE ON VIEWERS WATCHING AIRPLANES FLYING 

NEARBY AT HUNDREDS OF MILES PER HOUR. FINDING THE 

BALANCE BETWEEN ENTERTAINMENT AND RISK WILL BE VITAL 

TO CONTINUING THE AIR RACES AT RENO. 



After the National Transpor- 
tation Safety Board issues 
its report on the Galloping 
Ghost crash later this year, 
the FAA may change its 
air-race requirements. But 
every possible fix has a 
drawback— after all, fans 
come to watch airplanes 
roar past at close range. 



Move the viewing stands 
to inside the course. 



PRO: Debris shed from 
damaged planes would tend 
to fly away from the crowd, 
not into it. 

CON: Pilots in planes with 
mechanical problems would 
have to fly over the crowd 
to reach the runway. 



Lengthen the straightaway. 



PRO: Would move specta- 
tors farther from the zones 
near turns, the area with the 
greatest lethal potential. 
CON: There's not much 
room at Reno; the course is 
constrained by mountains 
and residential development. 



Move the viewing stands 
back from the course. 



PRO: This is the most likely 
solution, as this distance is 
the key parameter that the 
FAA sets for air-race and 
air-show spectator safety. 
CON: Putting more distance 
between fans and the action 
risks diluting the excitement. 




CROWD 



Are FAA Standards Sufficient? 

* The FAA mandates that spectators watching high-speed maneuvers 
be set back from the race line by at least 1500 feet. That distance is 
based on scatter diagrams that calculate where debris would land if 
pieces came off a plane on the course. But no FAA precaution takes into 
account what occurred at Reno, an aircraft leaving the course intact 
and flying into the crowd, 1900 feet away. 



Between the start of the 
Reno air races in 1964 
and 2010, 19 people lost 
their lives. Last year's 
crash was the first that 
hurt or killed spectators. 
Here are some notable 
fatalities: 

1972 H. E. Thomas crashes a 
homebuilt biplane; the NTSB 
never determines the cause. 
1975 Pilot M. D. Washburn 
dies after his wing clips a 
pylon and he crashes. About 
15 minutes later, wing walker 
Gordon McCollom is killed 
when his head hits the ground 
during a stunt. 
1994 Bill Speer, flying a 
P-51D, crashes while pulling 
off the racecourse after his 
windscreen is obscured by 
oil leaking from the propeller. 
Six days later, another pilot 
dies after a collision at the 
start of a race. 
2999ThetailofaP-51R 
disintegrates while in flight, 
killing pilot Gary Levitz and 
damaging a house. No one 
on the ground is injured. 
2002 Tommy Rose crashes 
his homebuilt airplane into 
the ground at 380 mph. 
The NTSB states that the 
airplane's horizontal 
stabilizers failed due to 
excessive speed. 



12 JANUARY 2012 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



RESIST 
CONFORMITY. 

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INTERPLANETARY GEOLOGY 



Sweater 
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TECH WATCH 




4-billion-year-old rock 
from Mars, likely blasted 
into space by a meteor, 
holds the first measurable 
evidence that the Red Planet 
had liquid water. Studying 
the bonds between rare 
isotopes of carbon and 
oxygen found in the rock, 
scientists at the California 
Institute of Technology in 
Pasadena determined that 
the elements had combined 
at about 64 F in an environ- 
ment with liquid water. 

- ALEX HUTCHINSON 






Just Say No- 
to Cancer 

CAN A CLUB DRUG 
ROLL OVER A DEADLY 
DISEASE? BY AMIR KHAN 



Researchers from the University of 
Birmingham in England have found a 
new weapon to fight cancer— Ecstasy. 
"We found that blood cancer cells 
make the same proteins that are 
targeted by Ecstasy in the brain," says 
John Gordon, a professor of cellular 
immunology. "We reasoned that if they 
have these proteins on them, then 
Ecstasy might affect them in some way. 
We found that at very high doses the 
drug was able to kill some of them." 
Gordon used a modified form of Ecstasy 
that is stronger but less toxic than the 
club drug. "The new form of Ecstasy 
gets inside the blood cancer cells more 
easily," Gordon says. He adds that even 
though the psychoactive effects of the 
drug are reduced, he still isn't sure of the 
long-term side effects. "We now need to 
go through testing to see whether the 
new drugs work in the body as well as 
they do in the test tube," he says. 




• QUICK HITS 

I'VE SEEN A DOUBLE RAINBOW. COULD I EVER SEE A TRIPLE? 

— > Double rainbows are fairly common: A second arc is produced by 
light reflecting twice between the inner walls of raindrops before 
exiting. Scientists have long assumed that a third arc would be too 
faint to see. But new calculations by Naval Academy meteorology professor 
Raymond Lee suggest that a triple rainbow could be visible under certain 
conditions— about 40 degrees from the sun when it's peeking through dark 
clouds. Armed with this information, rainbow chasers in Germany snapped 
the first-ever photographs showing a triple rainbow. 



Silver Shipwrecks 

Treasure hunters have located two wrecks 
in international waters off the coast of 
Ireland— and more than $200 million in 
silver they are believed to have been 
carrying. Tampa, Fla.-based Odyssey 
Marine Exploration pinpointed the vessels 
using an MAK-1M sonar scanner towed 
several miles below the surface; remotely 
operated subs were later deployed to 
confirm the wrecks' identities. The SS 
Gairsoppa, a 412-foot-long British cargo 
ship torpedoed by the Germans in 1941, 
held the majority of the loot, an estimated 
7 million ounces of silver. The 450-foot SS 
Mantola, sunk in 1917, is believed to have 
contained another 600,000 ounces of 
silver. Robotic salvage missions will 
begin in mid-2012; the company and the 
British government will share the profits 
80/20, respectively, —ah. 



14 JANUARY 2012 I POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



ILLUSTRATION BY RICHARD PEREZ 



21ST-CEN' 



The eye sees: 
A scene from 
a Steve Martin 
movie. 

Reconstructed 
image: Research- 
ers record brain 
activity and match 
it with a video 
database, produc- 
ing a human form 
with something 
around his neck. 






The eye sees: An 
airplane in flight, 
and foliage in 
the foreground. 
Reconstructed 
image: A match 
of brain activity 
and database 
videos shows a 
horizontal shape, 
a blue backdrop, 
and darkening on 
the right. 



Video on the Brain 

TAKING STRIDES TOWARD UNDERSTANDING HOW 
THE BRAIN PROCESSES STIMULI TO RECOGNIZE 
IMAGES, RESEARCHERS FIGURE OUT HOW TO 
PROJECT NEURAL ACTIVITY ONTO A TV SCREEN. 
BY STEVE ROUSSEAU 




Images are 
transmitted to 
the brain via each 
eve's optic nerve. 
H These signals 
are first processed 
in the primary 
visual cortex. 
IU Scientists exam- 
ine the primary 
visual cortex to 
produce images 
from brain activity. 



HOW DO THEY DO IT? 



UC Berkeley professor Jack 
Gallant and his team use MRI 
to track blood-flow changes in 
a subject's primary visual 
cortex— the brain's largest 
visual processing center- 
as he or she watches a movie. 
The researchers then create a 
model of the visual cortex that 
matches the blood-flow 
pattern with the images the 
subject is viewing. Algorithms 
are applied to compare the 
brain signals with a catalog of 
about 5000 hours of YouTube 
video. The images that most 
accurately correspond to the 
brain activity are compiled 
into a composite video, which 
resembles the YouTube 
footage. 

"I think it's very impressive 
that they can get these admit- 



tedly crude re-creations of 
our internal representations 
of video," says Marcel Just, 
director of the Carnegie 
Mellon University Center for 
Cognitive Brain Imaging, who 
was not involved in the study. 



WHAT S IT GOOD FOR? 



Such brain-visual linkages 
could one day aid communi- 
cation with stroke or coma 
patients. Gallant says that 
after his team's technique 
is refined, it could also 
record and play back dreams. 
The obstacle to this is 
understanding how the 
brain's visual processing 
changes when a person is 
sleeping or awake. Gallant 
is confident this will happen. 
"It's only a matter of time," 
he says. 




HD 



LASER BOMB DETECTION m The best place to be 
when searching for concealed bombs is as far away as 
possible. A system developed by Michigan State University 
chemists, with support from the Department of Homeland 
Security, uses a femtosecond laser that vibrates molecules 
with ultrashort pulses and identifies them with longer ones. 
The laser is no more powerful than a presentation pointer, 
but new studies show that the system could detect multiple 
chemical signatures in real-world surroundings. 



m 



TWO SUNS ARE BETTER THAN ONE «* Astronomers 
call it a circumbinary planet; Star Wars fans are calling it 
Tatooine, after the Skywalkers' home planet. SETI Institute 
researchers, using data from NASA's Kepler space 
telescope, found a planet about 200 light-years from Earth 
that is orbiting two stars, the first of its kind confirmed. 
Periodic dips in the stars' brightness allowed astronomers 
to calculate that a planet about the size of Saturn 
completes an orbit of the two-star system every 229 days. 



POPULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 15 



TECH WATCH 



ROAD SCIENCE 




Shine On -> LEDs quickly became the luxury- 
car headlight of choice after Audi adopted them in 
2007. Now BMW is one-upping the competition with 
headlamps that use lasers 1000 times as intense and 
twice as efficient as LEDs. To be safe for human eyes, 
the blue beams are converted into white light by 
yellow phosphor. BMW equipped its 2011 i8 concept 
car with the laser lights and will likely use them 
in select models over the next few years. 

- ANDREW DEL-COLLE 



ECONOMIC INFRASTRUCTURE 



Turning 
Milliseconds 
Into Millions 

HIGH-SPEED FINANCIAL TRADING 

GETS EVEN FASTER WITH A NEW 

TRANSATLANTIC CABLE. 

BY JOE PAPPALARDO 



> 




The newest fiberoptic cable 

crossing the Atlantic won't 
carry voice or Internet data. Instead, 
the line from New York to London will 
beam financial information to money 
marketers and hedge-fund traders— 
5 milliseconds faster than rival lines. 
"If you are trading in one market, you 



want to be monitoring what's 
happening in the other markets," says 
Bjarni Thorvardarson, CEO of Hibernia 
Atlantic, the firm installing the cable. 
"And if you know that 5 milliseconds 
faster or sooner than somebody else, 
you have a big leg up." 

In this day of automated, high- 
frequency trading, algorithms 
automatically execute sales and 
purchases based on triggers in 
financial data. Regardless of a trader's 
investment strategy, his or her 
software often reacts to the same 
economic data. And as always in the 
world of trading, the first orders on 
the books are the first ones executed. 
With a split-second advantage, 




The survey ship at left is currently scouting 
every inch of the planned route by pulling 
along a sonar scanner 30 feet above the 
ocean floor. The instrument details the 
makeup of the bottom, which ranges from 
sharp rocks to soft clay; this determines 
the toughness of cable to be laid in a given 
stretch. In shallow water— anything less 
than 3280 feet deep— the cable must be 
buried 10 feet to protect it from commer- 
cial fishing trawls. 




a trader's order can jump to the head 
of the line, before prices change as 
more algorithms place similar orders. 

Congress and market regulators 
are becoming leery of automated 
trading. "The SEC doesn't have the 
technology to understand if high- 
frequency trading is legitimate or 
if it's manipulative," says Larry Tabb, 
CEO oftheTABB Group capital market 
research firm. 

Thorvardarson says his customers 
aren't worried. "To be better than the 
competition— that's what competi- 
tion is about," he says. The route 
survey should be finished early in 
2012; the $300 million cable will be 
ready for service in 2013. 



LONDON -^=. 



Distance that 

light in a 

submarine 

fiberoptic line 

travels in about 

1 millisecond. 



The planned 
transatlantic 
cable will be 
this much 
shorter than 
existing lines, 

making its 
transmission 
rate 5 milli- 
seconds faster. 



16 JANUARY 2012 | POPUL, 



i.COM 











* 







Protecting the Future of Nature 




Arctic sea ice, a critical habitat for polar bears, is vanishing before 
our eyes. As polar bears are forced to spend more time on land, the 
potential for conflict between humans and bears grows. WWF creates 
global solutions to cut carbon emissions — a leading cause of the 
depletion of sea ice — while also working with local communities, 
scientists and governments in Alaska and Russia to reduce the 
threats to polar bears. We can protect the needs of polar bears 
while respecting the needs of local communities. 




worldwildlife.org 



a» 





T 



he airstream 20 miles offshore blows at an average 33 feet per second, a prime condition for wind turbines. 
But it's prohibitively expensive to build a turbine in deep water, and the ocean floor that far off most of the 
coastal United States is a long way down. Two companies are testing floating turbine prototypes in Europe 
that are designed to operate at great depths and at low cost. Officials with the Department of Energy are 
evaluating both real-world tests for domestic use. — Stephanie warren 



STABILITY 



WindFloat's base adjusts the water 
level in three columns to keep the turbine 
level. Engineers designed Sway's tall, 
slender tower so that its center of gravity 
lies below the structure's center of 
buoyancy, allowing it to remain steady even 
when seas are turbulent. 



AFFORDABILITY 



WindFloat saves steel by placing its 
tower on a column instead of on a 
platform. The Sway design economizes 
and gains structural support with steel 
cables. Its blades are mounted downwind- 
the opposite of most turbines— to keep 
them clear of the cables. 



ROTATION 



WindFloat's 100-ton nacelle, or gear 
housing, turns to meet the breeze, like 
a typical land-based turbine. The Sway's 
entire tower rotates on a universal joint 
that connects the turbine to the tension-leg 
anchor; the blade clearance from the wires 
remains constant. 



18 JANUARY 2012 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



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Stanley's new FuBar adds a hatchet blade 
to its demolition repertoire 



Out With 
1 the Old 



K 



azoos, countdowns, and corks a-popping are fine, but we prefer some new noises 
this New Year's. Ajigsaw chattering, yanked nails squealing— these are sounds of old 
acquaintance being forgot. Here, we present tools for bidding farewell to a wall, 
creating a functional void in raw lumber, or organizing the discards of the day. It's the 
upside of disposal, making way for something new and better. - harry sawyers 



PHOTOGRAPH BY SETH SMOOT 



POPULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 21 



UPGRADE 




nail puller 



hatchet 
blade 



14" 




cat s paw 
and pry bar 



WATCH OUT, WALLS 

Stanley's first Functional 
Utility Bar merged a hammer 
and a pry bar; now the fourth 
generation of this hand-tool 
hodgepodge adds a hatchet 
to the mix. The FuBar($20) 
can dismantle drywall with 
a chop from that P-shaped 
blade. A face opposite the 
cutting end is designed to 
be struck, if the tool needs 
a hammer to help it along. 
Like its predecessors, the 
FuBar's cocked chisel tip can 
pry apart studs or molding, 
and a cat's paw and nail puller 
come in from odd angles to 
yank out cramped or buried 
fasteners. The main drawback 
is the short handle's lack of 
leverage. And it isjust a hand 
tool— there's some stuff only 
a recip saw can set free. 



"One customer returned six busted 
socket wrenches, so our engineers went to 
his house. They found him, this 7-foot-tall 
guy, swinging his wrench like a hammer. 
They asked what he was doing with the 
u. What?' he asked. 'I just use it. ' " 



- IAN PARKHILL, PRESIDENT, WERA TOOLS 



— 



MEET THE SUPER SOCK 

-> So the engineers went back to the I 
and designed Wera's Koloss Hammer 
Ratchet ($120), a 1^-inch-drive socket 
wrench with two flat faces ready to str" 
They sent the wrench-banger a prototy 
and told him he had two months to try 
break it. When the designers returned . 
see how the Koloss had fared, the man 
said they now had two new problems. 
"First," he said, "you're not going to sell 
many of these. I will give this to my son 
and he will hand it down as well." That': 
fine, they said. What's the other proble 
"I'm keeping your sample," he replied. 




HYBRID JIGSAW 

• European carpenters favor a fat 
barrel grip on a jigsaw, but U.S. 
craftsmen prefer a D-handle. 
Milwaukee's new M12 Cordless High 
Performance Jig Saw ($149) 
combines the blade-steering control of 
a barrel with the skinny trigger grip 
of a D-style. The 4.1-pound cutter is 
compact too— at just 8.75 inches 
long, the 12-volt tool is one of the 
smallest 34-inch-stroke saws on the 
market. Use it to notch flooring to fit 
radiator pipes or to trim MDF to make 
a countertop base. 



22 JANUARY 2012 | P0PULARMECHANICS.COM 



Very high triglycerides is a medical 
term for something serious: 

TOO MUCH FAT IN YOUR BLOOD. 

Ask your doctor about the FDA-approved medication made from omega-3 fish oil: LOVAZA 



If you have high cholesterol, diabetes or are overweight, you may also be 
at risk for very high triglycerides (s500 mg/dL), which is a serious medical 
condition. There's only one FDA-approved medication for treating very high 
triglycerides that's made from omega-3 fish oil. LOVAZA, along with diet, 
has been clinically proven to lower very high triglycerides in adults. Individual 
results may vary. LOVAZA has not been shown to prevent heart attacks or 
strokes. LOVAZA is only available by prescription. You can't get it at a health 
food store. So if you think you might have very high triglycerides, talk to 
your doctor about getting tested and ask about LOVAZA. 

LOVAZA is used along with a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet to lower very 
high triglycerides (fats) in your blood. Before taking LOVAZA, talk to your 
healthcare provider about how you can lower high blood fats by losing 
weight, if you are overweight, increasing physical exercise, lowering alcohol 
use, treating diseases such as diabetes and low thyroid (hypothyroidism), 
and adjusting the dose or changing other medicines that raise triglyceride 
levels such as certain blood pressure medicines and estrogens. 

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR LOVAZA 

Tell your doctor if you are allergic to fish or shellfish as LOVAZA may not be 
right for you. Talk to your doctor about any medical conditions you have and 
any medications you are taking, especially those that may increase your 
risk of bleeding. In some patients, LDL (bad) cholesterol may increase. Your 
healthcare provider should do blood tests before and during treatment with 
LOVAZA to check your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If you have liver 
disease, you may require additional monitoring. Possible side effects include 
burping, upset stomach, and change in sense of taste. 
How supplied: 1-gram capsule 

Please see important Patient Information on the next page. 

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. 
Visitwww.fda.gov/medwatcli, or coll 1-800-FDA-1088. 

For more information, visit LOVAZA.com or call 1 -877-LOVAZA1 



LOVAZA e a registered trodemnrk 
o' GloxoSinithlliw. 




<g 



GlaxoSmithKline 



©201 1 Hie GtaioSmrffiKline Group of Componies 
111 rgte resewd. Printed r USA. 1V7808R0 Apnt 701 1 




' you 



fl you don t Kaw presriSption coverage 
and cmn t afford your mcdiclimi. 
g iKfucYou torn 
or cah 1 : «««.«K : F5iU,i1-*A6-475-3o78) 



LOVAZA 

omepa 3 acid ethyl esters 



PATIENT INFORMATION — ^3 : =~ 

LOVAZA* (lo-va-ii) LOVAZA 

(ome 9 a-3-acid ethyl m,,.].^ , lk| | „,„: 
esters) Capsules 

Read the Patient Information that 
comes with LOVAZA before you start 
taking it, and each time you get a 
refill. There may be new information. 
This leaflet summarizes the most 
important information about LOVAZA 
and does not take the place of 
talking with your doctor about your 
condition or treatment. 
For more information, visit 
LOVAZA.com or call 1 -877- LO VAZA1 

What is LOVAZA? 

LOVAZA is a prescription medicine, 
called a lipid-regulating medicine, 
for adults. LOVAZA is made of 
omega-3 fatty acids from oils of 
fish, such as salmon and mackerel. 
Omega-3 fatty acids are substances 
that your body needs but cannot 
produce itself. 

LOVAZA is used along with a low-fat 
and low-cholesterol diet to lower 
very high triglycerides (fats) in your 
blood. Before taking LOVAZA, talk to 
your healthcare provider about how 
you can lower high blood fats by: 

• losing weight, if you are 
overweight 

• increasing physical exercise 

• lowering alcohol use 

• treating diseases such as diabetes 
and low thyroid (hypothyroidism) 

• adjusting the dose or changing 
other medicines that raise 
triglyceride levels such as certain 
blood pressure medicines and 
estrogens 

Treatment with LOVAZA has not 
been shown to prevent heart 
attacks or strokes. 

LOVAZA has not been studied in 
children under the age of 18 years. 

Who should NOT take LOVAZA? 

Do not take LOVAZA if you: 

• are allergic to LOVAZA or any 
of its ingredients. 

What should I tell my doctor 
before taking LOVAZA? 
Tell your doctor about all of your 
medical conditions, including 
if you: 

• drink more than 2 glasses of 
alcohol daily. 

• have diabetes. 

• have a thyroid problem called 
hypothyroidism. 

• have a liver problem. 

• have a pancreas problem. 

• are allergic to fish and/or shellfish. 
LOVAZA may not be right for you. 

• are pregnant, or planning to 
become pregnant. It is not known 
if LOVAZA can harm your unborn 
baby. 

• are breastfeeding. It is not known 
if LOVAZA passes into your milk 
and if it can harm your baby. 



Tell your doctor about all the 
medicines you take, including 
prescription and non-prescription 
medicine, vitamins, and herbal 
supplements. LOVAZA and certain 
other medicines can interact. 
Especially tell your doctor if you 
take medicines that affect clotting 
such as anticoagulants or blood 
thinners. Examples of these medicines 
include aspirin, nonsteroidal 
anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDS). 
warfarin, coumarin, and 
clopidogrel (PLAVIX*). 

How should I take LOVAZA? 

• Take LOVAZA exactly as 
prescribed. Do not change your 
dose or stop LOVAZA without 
talking to your doctor. 

• Your doctor should start you on a 
low-fat and low-cholesterol diet 
before giving you LOVAZA. Stay 
on this low-fat and low-cholesterol 
diet while taking LOVAZA. 

• Your doctor should do blood tests 
to check your triglyceride and 
cholesterol levels during treatment 
with LOVAZA. 

• If you have liver disease, your 
doctor should do blood tests to 
check your liver function during 
treatment with LOVAZA. 

What are the possible side 
effects of LOVAZA? 

The most common side effects with 
LOVAZA are burping, upset stomach 
and a change in your sense of taste. 

LOVAZA may affect certain blood 
tests. It may change: 

• one of the tests to check liver 
function (ALT) 

• one of the tests to measure 
cholesterol levels (LDL-C) 

Talk to your doctor if you have side 
effects that bother you or that will 
not go away. 

These are not all the side effects 
with LOVAZA. For more information, 
ask your doctor or pharmacist. 

What are the ingredients in 
LOVAZA? 

Active Ingredient: 
Omega-3-acid ethyl esters 
Inactive Ingredients: Gelatin, 
glycerol, purified water, 
alpha-tocopherol (in soybean oil) 

LOVAZA is a registered trademark 

of the GlaxoSmithKline group of 

companies. 

PLAVIX is a registered trademark 

of Sanofi-Synthelabo. 

Distributed by: 

t^p GlaxoSmithKline 

GlaxoSmithKline 

Research Triangle Park. NC 27709 

©2010 GlaxoSmithKline. 

All rights reserved. 

©201 1 The GlaxoSmithKline Group of Companies 
Al nglits reserved Printed in L&V LVZfiOflfiO Aprt 201 1 



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UPGRADE 



Critter 
Control 

If gap-plugging 
copper wool 
isn't enough 
to keep bugs 
out, here's 
how ento- 
mologist Mark 
Sheperdigian 
(aka Shep), 
ofTroy,Mich.'s 
Rose Pest 
Solutions, 
says to fight 
'em off. 




ROACHES: Put 
traps in corners 
and in the backs of 
cabinets, liberally," 
Shep says. Use 
beer-soaked bread 
for big, solo water 
bugs. For German 
roach infestations, 
he advises calling 
a pro: "Those get 
out of hand." 



RODENTS: Use 

classic snap traps 
for mice, Shep 
says. "Bait them 
with packing 
peanuts. Put the 
business end next 
to the wall." Give 
rats a week to 
learn to eat off the 
trap, then set it. 



rk 




•f 



ANTS: Set liquid 
or gel baits in a 
trap near the ant 
trail. "Make one 
big pile," Shep 
says. Ants work 
together to take it 
all back to remote 
nests. Foragers 
are only a fraction 
of the population. 



Take Back 
Trash With 

Waste 

Management 

Strategies 

Getting the upper hand 
on garbage is largely a 
logistical challenge. Any 
home piles and purges 
rubbish, but solutions 
for hiding it away and 
hauling it out make all 
the difference in how 
much the waste is seen 
(and smelled). A sound 
plan benefits the 
home's owners— and 
shuts out uninvited 
invaders, -h.s. 




COMPOST HOLD 

Before heading to the heap, 
old eggshells and coffee 
grounds occupy the counter- 
top. Subdue the stink with 
Simplehuman's Compost Pail 
($60), an 11-inch-tall stainless- 
steel can with bamboo handles, 
which uses charcoal filters to 
absorb odors from its 1.2 
gallons of festering contents. 





THE KING BIN 

Made of supple rotational- 
molded, medium-density 
polyethylene (not that brittle 
injected-HDPEjunk), Toter's 
96-gallon EVR II Cart ($90) 
is a major upgrade from a 
low-end rolling can. It carries 
up to 335 pounds of trash 
over a service life of 15 to 
20 years. 




SACK RACK 

A big bag can hold a lot of 
bags, but sophisticated sack 
hoarders need Simplehuman's 
Wall Mount Grocery Bag 
Holder ($10), a box that 
measures 15.6 x 6.3 inches, 
projects 3.6 inches from the 
wall, and stores up to 30 bags. 
End the plastic purgatory 
beneath the sink. 




SMOOTH REFUSE 

With a double-wall steel 
frame and full-extension 
runners capable of carrying 
up to 110 pounds, the silent, 
preassembled Moovit ($249 
for a double-bin) proves that 
Hafele is the Cadillac of 
sliding kitchen-cabinet 
hardware. Go for the 
Champagne palette. 



POPULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 25 



UPGRADE 



ABUSIVE LAB TEST 



Baby Boomboxes 



s 



omewhere between headphones and home speakers lie 
Bluetooth-enabled wireless portable speakers, a class of 
products made for rocking and roaming. To find out how 
forcefully the little speakers bombard anyone within 
earshot, we tested three hot boxes, -harry sawyers 



Sound Quality 




■ JBL On Tour iBT ($199) 




We listened to R.E.M., Jurassic 5, the 
Beatles, and Thelonious Monk to test a 
range of instruments and production styles. 

B o s E : Below full volume, the box pumped 
out rich vocals, deep sound, and subtleties 
like rattling snares and high-hat-cymbal 
echoes. Bass distorted at high volumes, 
but four drivers kicked out notable decibels. 
JBL: Clear vocals, but small sound overall. 
High and low notes blended in the middle. 
Bass, despite four drivers, barely existed. 
jawbone: Full volume sounded fine at 
2 feet away. From across the room, quality 
was the worst tested. Bass had a hiccup 
tone. Jazz was like a telephone call on hold. 



Portability 



Is it easy to take this show on the road? 

bo s e : The Bose rocks steady, with a 
projected 8-hour battery life. But it's bulky 
at 5 x 2 x 9.5 inches and almost 3 pounds. 
JBL: Four AA batteries last up to 5 hours 
in this 2-inch-tall, 6.5-inch-diameter disc. 
jawbone: Weighing 12 ounces and 
measuring 1.5 x 2 x 6 inches, the Jambox 
is the most portable item. Its rechargeable 
battery is rated for 10 hours' sustained use. 

■ Ease of Connection 

These speakers sync with iPhones and 
other portable devices. But is it easy? As for 
range, a phone could control each speaker 
well past its audible listening distance. 

bose: Not intuitive to connect. We had to, 
of all things, read the instructions. The key: 
Hold down the speaker's Bluetooth button. 
JBL: Tricky to connect. An accidental 
button mashing made a phone call through 
the speaker. 

jawbone: Aces the setup— a voice from 
the speaker tells you it's connected. 

■ Collision Test 

To simulate a tailgating/picnic disaster, we 
pelted each speaker with a leather football 
to knock it off a 30-inch-tall table. 

bose: The SoundLink's removable case 
suffered an unsightly dent, but the speaker 
continued to function after a spill. 
jbl: The On Tour iBTs shiny plastic case 
acquired a permanent scuff after catching 
a tight spiral, but its rubber feet held firm. 
jawbone: The lightweight Jambox popped 
off the table after slight contact, but it took 
no noticeable damage. 



^E j i 9 To gain portability and battery life, these all compromise sound quality. Small drivers and speakers can push only 

so much air. (Bluetooth compression did not harm the sound, defying our expectation.) For a picnic or a party in 
a tent, the Bose model is the best of the bunch. But for $300, audiophiles may prefer a rechargeable dock. 



26 JANUARY 2012 | P0PULARMECHANICS.COM 



PHOTOGRAPHS BY SETH SMOOT 



IPHONE 4S 

Same design, 
new guts and 
camera. The 
freshest thing 
about the 4S is 
Siri, the first 
smartphone 
voice-control 
system that isn't 
absolutely 
terrible. ($200) 



ASUS UX21 

Asuperthin, 
brushed-metal 
laptop with 
respectable 
muscle, the Asus 
UX21 is the first 
affordable PC 
that might 
actually be 
prettier than a 
MacBook Air. 
($1000) 



AMDFX 
PROCESSORS 

The FX series of 
processors 
recalls the days 
when AMD, the 
Other Processor 
Company, could 
compete with 
Intel on 

performance— 
and win on price. 
($175) 



JAWBONE UP 

This app-controlled wristband tracks 
exercise, sleep, and calories— the whole 
biometric shebang. If you must wear a 
gaudy bracelet, it might as well make you 
healthy. ($100) 



BEATS BY 
DR. ORE 

HEADPHONES 

Now in two new 
colors! These 
reasonably 
attractive, 
decent-sounding, 
and absurdly 
overpriced 
headphones are 
a marketing 
triumph— the 
tech world's Air 
Jordans. ($300) 




EARIHSHHINB 



/n to tech nerds as Ice 
h, was announced alon 
mous, 720p smartpho 



EE»ElW'*fSf.;f 



KINDLE FIRE 

Whether 
Amazon's 7-inch 
Android tablet 
is a great 
product doesn't 
really matter. At 
less than half 
the price of the 
cheapest i Pad, 
it doesn't need 
to be. ($200) 



NEST 
THERMOSTAT 

A learning 
thermostat 
from one of 
the original 
designers of the 
iPod. It looks 
nice and it's 
easy to use, but, 
well, it's still just 
a thermostat. 
($249) 





J 



IHSIBH FIEHHJ 



The Tech-O-Meter 



-» New gadgets hit the market at such a fast pace that they can become a blur. 
Here we present 10 items worth focusing on, for better or worse, byjohnherrman 



P0PULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 27 



ADVERTISEMENT 



ROAD REVOLUTION 

YOU'RE NO LONGER ALONE. 















SOCIAL NETWORKING FOR THE ROAD 
Radar detection has traditionally been a solitary pursuit: 
one driver, one car, one unit. Now the revolutionary 
new ESCORT Live! lets you tap into an entire network 
of drivers for the most powerful real-time protection 
against laser-speed monitoring and other threats like 
speed traps and fixed-position cameras. 

THE DRIVING FORCE: TEAMWORK 
Accurate, affordable, and easy to use, this 
breakthrough technology enables lightning-fast 
communication between ESCORT Live! units. So when 



you — and scores of other ESCORT Live! owners — hit 
the road, a nation of "scouts" is deployed to detect 
and instantly alert you about high-risk ticket situations. 

ABUZZ ABOUT ESCORT LIVE! 
ESCORT Live has recently won the trifecta of top 
industry awards: SEMA Best New Mobile Electronics 
Product, CES Innovations Award, and Popular 
Mechanics Editors Choice Award. Now impassioned 
ESCORT Live! owners are hitting the social-media 
circuits, encouraging other drivers to join the ultimate 
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POPULAR MECHANICS READERS 
TAKE ESCORT LIVE! FOR A SPIN 



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PASSPORT 9500ix 



CONNECT VIA SMARTCORD LIVE 




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Then connect the SmartCord to your ESCORT radar 
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GET THE ULTIMATE TICKET PROTECTION 
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Scan code or visit 
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for more information. 




WINNER OF THE TOP 3 INDUSTRY AWARDS IN 2012! 



SEMA Best New 
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Product 



Popular Mechanics 
Editor's Choice Award 

PopMech 9 




CES 

Innovations 

Award 



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Jumpstart your own road revolution 
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ESCORT Live! 

User Report: 

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\ 



Map View 



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We invited a select group of Popular Mechanics readers to test the revolutionary new 
ESCORT Live! Our revved-up testers jumped at the chance — they would be the first 
consumers in the nation to try out the device before it hit the shelves. After a short 
debriefing on how the ESCORT Live! system works, we turned them loose on the road 
and waited for their reactions. Were they pleased? Read on. 





^_ 1 


1 


[eTjI 
©•■'" 

1 ^^^ 10M9GH* 






Radar Detected 

**POrt 1 Unlock 


W 


1 


■' <t 






J. Clark: "The system 
is like a human — it 
learns. So I won't have 
to worry about false 
alarms!" 



P. Smith: "Since I 
already have a smart 
phone, the system is 
L« very simple to use. It's 
H very cool and will be a 
big help on the road! " 





J. Cohen: "The 
technology is really good. 
Once this launches and 
lots of people get on 
the network, it will be 
fantastic — especially 
when you take trips." 

L. Molnai; "Having a really 
good detector like this is 
huge. But when you add a 
network feature that allows 
other people to warn you 
there's laser ahead, that 
means the world to me." 






Call now for your introductory offer, 
available for a limited time only! 

800-852-6258 



ESCORT 

msm 



*ESCORT Live! is compatible w.th iPhone 3GS or 4 using OS 4 1 or later and Android OS 2 1 or later 



1 1 

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yet 

-~ Experts predict that within 100 years, natural lands and water resources will become 
scarce. Climate change will irreversibly alter the planet. And the habitats that support all 
life could be lost forever. 

Support our mission to protect the future of our natural world. To make a difference that 
lasts, join The Nature Conservancy. 

Log onto nature.org today. 



T he Nature && 

Conservancy ^iP 

Protecting nature. Preserving life?" 



P0PULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 31 



NEW EVS + FRESH IMPREZA + 
KILLER M5 + SHOCKING CONCEPTS 



New Cars 



2012 Fisker Karma 

* base price $88,400 

POWERTRAIN 

Two 201-hp AC electric 

motors powered by a 

22-kwh battery pack and 

a 260-hp gas-engine 

backup generator 

TRANSMISSION 

Single-speed 

EV RANGE 

50 mi les 

/0-60MPH 

5.9 seconds 



Jit 






U 



No 5000-pound luxury sedan with a 
124-inch wheelbase and 22-inch 
wheels has a right to be this athletic, 
smooth, and collected, whether 
hustling or cruising. Trie Karma, 
Fisker's first car, is a plug-in hybrid. 
A pair of 201-hp electric motors drive 
the rear wheels, and when the 
22-kilowatt-hour battery pack is 
depleted (after roughly 50 miles) or 
when the driver calls for full power 
with the Sport mode, a GM-supplied 
turbo four-cylinder fires to spin a 
generator. We love this car's dual 
personality, Bentley-beating interior, 
solar-panel-covered roof, and the 
sexiest silhouette this side of Scarlett 
Johansson. But oh, boy, that gas 
engine is a noisy beast when it's 
running. Fisker says a fix is in the 
works. We hope that's true, because 
the Karma could, like the Volt, change 
the way drivers perceive EVs. 

- COLIN MATHEWS 



32 JANUARY 2012 I POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



New Cars test drives 



AUTO^^p 



Stretching from Canada to Oregon, 
Interstate 5 in Washington will be 
the first "electric highway," with EV 
charging stations every 40 to 60 
miles. Eventually, the West Coast Green 
Highway project will install chargers 
all the way south to Mexico. 



The rough percentage, by weight, of the 
element lithium in a typical lithium-ion 
battery. Lithium salts are used in the 
electrolyte and transfer the electrical 
charge from the cathode to the anode. 



VW's Up is the German company's latest gas-powered fuel 
sipper. It's just 140 inches long, half a foot shorter than the 
stubby Mini Cooper, and, like the Cooper, it seats four. A wide 
range of powertrains will be available: a 1.0-liter three-cylinder 
with either 59 or 74 hp, a natural-gas-burning version, and 
eventually an electric version. The gasoline motor is deceptively 
smooth despite its lack of balance shafts (internal rotating rods 
that quell engine vibration) and delivers well over 50 mpg. And 
while the 100-mph top speed and modest acceleration are 
hardly headline making, Up can hold its own in modern traffic. 
Currently, VW has no plans to sell the Up in the U.S., but if fuel 
prices spike, that could change. — Andrew English 




P0PULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 33 



New Cars test drives 



O FIVE-PASSENGER SUPERCAR 



B 



MW's line of M cars 
launched in 1978 
with the racy Ml, 
and the family tree is littered 
with some deliciously 
rough-edged street cars. But 
the 2013 M5 ($90,000 
estimated) might throw 
enthusiasts for a loop. Sure, 
its twin-turbocharged, 
4.4-liter V-8 offers more 
power (560 hp, 500 Ib-ft) 
and 30 percent better fuel 
economy than the last 
model, but this sedan's 
outrageous performance is 
married to a surprisingly 
drama-free driving 
experience. Thrust is so 



locomotive-like that it makes 
the claimed 0-to-62-mph 
time of 4.4 seconds seem 
erroneously humble, yet the 
cabin is quiet enough for a 
conversation as you blaze 
down the highway. The 
seven-speed dual-clutch 
gearbox worked wonderfully 
during hot laps at southern 
Spain's Ascari racetrack, 
where the M5 exuded poise 
and superlative brake feel. 
It's hard to argue with the 
M5's capabilities, but we'd 
trade some of the polish for 
a bit more character. Often, 
the cars we love aren't 
perfect. - BASEM WASEF 




ZERO 



The total profits Tesla Motors, which 
makes EVs, has earned since its 2003 
inception. Now that the $110,000 
Roadster is out of production, Tesla's 
hopes for profitability hinge on the 
Model S, which is due next year. Early 
prototypes look promising. 



32 



The estimated highway mpg of BMW's 
upcoming hybrid 5 Series. This new 
powertrain uses a twin-turbo straight 
six and an electric motor in front of an 
eight-speed automatic. Expect it later 
this year. 



AUTO ^ 



MIDSIZE BEAUTY 




Chevy's current Malibu was General Motors' first midsize car 
that could stand next to the stalwart Toyota Camry and Honda 
Accord. Now Chevy aims to step ahead with a completely 
redesigned version. The exceedingly handsome 2013 model 
will arrive in showrooms in early 2012, and as is the current 
trend, it won't be available with a V-6. In addition to the base 
2.5-liter inline four, an ECO model will use a mild hybrid 
powertrain to boost highway fuel economy to around 38 mpg, 
a heady figure for a roomy car that should cost around 
26 grand. Plus, the Malibu's got moves. At GM's Milford, Mich., 
test track, where we drove a prototype, the sedan's suspension 
provided a resilient ride and well-controlled body motions. If 
there's one flaw, it's the engine's slightly raucous tone as it 
nears redline. But there's much to like, including up to 10 
available airbags and a large center screen that moves upward 
to reveal an extra storage compartment, -garywitzenburg 



34 JANUARY 2012 I POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



New Cars test drives 



S^ O SAFE BET 




LITTLE OEUCE COOPER 




The 2012 Impreza has gone 
back to its econobox roots. 
While it still comes standard 
with all-wheel drive, it sports 
a smaller, less powerful 
2.0-liter engine (148 hp 
and 145 Ib-ft of torque) than 
last year's model and has a 
new give-me-a-minute-to- 
think-about-it exterior. 
Efficiency, however, is vastly 
improved. The car is 
165 pounds lighter, and this, 
plus the new engine, boosts 
fuel economy a whopping 
30 percent to 25/34 mpg 
with a five-speed manual 
and 27/36 with the CVT. 
That CVT works fine in 
normal use, but it's not a 
good complement to the 
car's sporty handling— the 
transmission feels slow to 
alter the ratios. The roomy 
interior has been upgraded 
with the addition of 
soft-touch materials, tilting 
headrests, and a separate 
info display above the center 
stack in all models, but the 
base model's center stack 
and dash feel and look 
dated. Still, when it comes 
to all-weather performance 
and versatility— especially 
for the five-door hatch- 
back—the Impreza is a solid 
entry. - JAMES TATE 



Mini fears its cars are getting stuck in the "cute" category, so now we have a new model with a truncated 
rear hatch and no rear seats in an effort to make the brand seem sportier. The Coupe ($22,000 base price) 
and its twin, the soft-top Roadster (due in February), still roll on the standard Cooper's chassis. Horsepower 
options are also identical to the Cooper's and range between 121 and 208 from the 1.6-liter four. More 
obvious external changes include a steeply raked windshield and a secondary spoiler that deploys at 
50 mph off the lip of the hatch's abrupt tail. Ditching the back seats allowed engineers to stiffen the car's 
structure. As a result, the Coupe is more poised entering and exiting corners, and when the pavement turns 
to potholes, the car feels pinned to the ground. Still, this is a niche animal that lacks the pure machismo of, 
say, a Mustang, and offers even less of the Mini's limited practicality. — michael frank 

I 



AUTO i ^ 



1064 



The first year a Mini Cooper won the 
Monte Carlo Rally, cementing the car's 
reputation as a tiny and unlikely speed 
demon. In late 2010, Mini reentered 
World Rally competition with a heavily 
modified version of the Countryman. 



265 



The horsepower of the fabulously 
entertaining WRX version of the 
Subaru Impreza. That model remains 
unchanged for 2012 and won't get the 
updates of the standard Impreza for 
another two years. 




NATURE CALLING TOO OFTEN? 



Jalyn 

(dutasteride and tamsulosin HO) 
Capsules 
O.Smg/OAmg 




Going Frequently Incomplete Emptying Waking Up to Go Flow Starts and Stops Trouble Going 



For guys with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), nature calls a little too often. JALYN can help reduce 
urinary symptoms of BPH in men with an enlarged prostate. JALYN is not approved for the prevention of prostate cancer. 

It's time to ask your doctor if JALYN is right for you. 

www.JALYN.com 



Important Safety Information About JALYN 

• JALYN is for adult men only. Women should not take or touch JALYN 
due to risk of a specific birth defect. If a woman comes in contact 
with leaking JALYN Capsules, she should wash the contact area 
immediately with soap and water. 

• Do not take JALYN if you are allergic to dutasteride, finasteride, 
tamsulosin, or any of the ingredients in JALYN. 

• JALYN may cause rare and serious allergic reactions, including: 
swelling of your face, tongue, or throat, and serious skin reactions, 
such as skin peeling. Get medical help right away if you have these 
serious allergic reactions. 

• JALYN may cause a sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing, 
especially when starting treatment, which may cause you to faint, 
or feel dizzy or lightheaded. Avoid driving or operating hazardous 
equipment when starting or restarting JALYN. 

■ Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription 
and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. 
JALYN and other medicines may affect each other, causing side effects. 

• Some types of medicines should not be taken with JALYN, including: 
ketoconazole, an antifungal medication, which if taken with JALYN 
can increase levels of tamsulosin. a component of JALYN; and 
alpha-blockers, like tamsulosin, which if taken with JALYN may 
cause fainting, dizziness, or feeling lightheaded. 

• Some types of medicines should be used with caution when taken with 
JALYN, including: erythromycin, paroxetine, or terbinafine, which when 
taken with JALYN can increase levels of tamsulosin, a component of 
JALYN: cimetidine; certain types of medicines that are commonly used 
to treat erectile dysfunction, which when taken with JALYN may cause 
fainting, dizziness, or feeling lightheaded; and warfarin. 



• Only your healthcare provider can tell if your symptoms are due to 
BPH or a more serious condition like prostate cancer. See your 
doctor for regular exams. 

• JALYN may cause serious side effects including a higher chance of 
a more serious form of prostate cancer. 

• Your healthcare provider may check you for other prostate 
problems, including prostate cancer, before you start and while 
you take JALYN. A blood test called PSA (prostate-specific antigen) 
is sometimes used to see if you might have prostate cancer. 
JALYN will reduce the amount of PSA measured in your blood. Your 
healthcare provider is aware of this effect and can still use PSA to 
see if you might have prostate cancer. Increases in your PSA levels 
while on treatment with JALYN (even if the PSA levels are in the 
normal range) should be evaluated by your healthcare provider. 

• Rarely, JALYN can cause a painful erection. If this happens get 
medical help right away. 

• Do not donate blood until 6 months after stopping JALYN. 

• Before you take JALYN. tell your doctor if you: have a history of low 
blood pressure, plan to have cataract surgery, are allergic to sulfa 
medications, take medicines to treat high blood pressure, have liver 
problems, or have any other medical conditions. 

• The most common side effects include: ejaculation problems, 
trouble getting or keeping an erection (impotence), a decrease in 
sex drive (libido), decreased amount of semen released during sex, 
dizziness, enlarged or painful breasts (if you notice breast lumps 
or nipple discharge, you should talk to your healthcare provider), 
and runny nose. 

Please see the next page for Patient Information about JALYN. 



GlaxoSmithKline 



You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs 
to the FDA. Visitwww.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088. 



' you don't have p'«cnptiow csia 
and can't atfoid yOU 

»'itl QSKtorVoo.com 
-•:: i S66-G5KFORU IM PS-WTBJI 



©2011 The GiBKoSmittiKlme Group of Companies AH rights reserved, Printed in USA. JAU57R0 September 2011 



PATIENT INFORMATION 

JALYN™ [JAY-LIN] 

(dutasteride and tamsulosin hydrochloride) 

Capsules 

JALYN is for use by men only. 

Read this patient information before you start taking JALYN and each time you get 
a refill. There may be new information. This information does not take the place of 
talking with your healthcare provider about your medical condition or your treatment. 

What is JALYN? 

JALYN is a prescription medicine that contains 2 medicines: dutasteride and 
tamsulosin. JALYN is used to treat the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia 
(BPH) in men with an enlarged prostate. 

Who should not take JALYN? 
Do Not Take JALYN if you are: 

• pregnant or could become pregnant. JALYN may harm your unborn baby. Pregnant 
women should not touch JALYN Capsules. If a woman who is pregnant with a 
male baby gets enough JALYN in her body by swallowing or touching JALYN, the 
male baby may be bom with sex organs mat are not normal. If a pregnant woman 
or woman of childbearing potential comes in contact with leaking JALYN 
Capsules, the contact area should be washed immediately with soap and water. 

• a child or teenager. 

• allergic to dutasteride, tamsulosin, or any of the ingredients in JALYN. See the end 
of this page for a complete list of ingredients in JALYN. 

• taking another medicine that contains an alpha-blocker. 

• allergic to other 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors, for example, PROSCAR® (finasteride) 
Tablets. 

What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking JALYN? 

Before you take JALYN, tell your healthcare provider if you: 

• have a history of low blood pressure 

• take medicines to treat high blood pressure 

• plan to have cataract surgery 

• have liver problems 

• are allergic to sulfa medications 

• have any other medical conditions 

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including 
prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. 
JALYN and other medicines may affect each other, causing side effects. JALYN may 
affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how JALYN 

works. 

Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of them to show your healthcare provider 
and pharmacist when you get a new medicine. 

How should I take JALYN? 

• Take JALYN exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to take it. 

• Swallow JALYN Capsules whole. Do not crush, chew, or open JALYN Capsules 
because the contents of the capsule may irritate your lips, mouth, or throat. 

• Take your JALYN 1 time each day, about 30 minutes after the same meal every 
day. For example, you may take JALYN 30 minutes after dinner every day. 

• If you miss a dose, you can take it later that same day, 30 minutes after a meal. 
Do not take 2 JALYN Capsules in the same day. If you stop or forget to take JALYN 
for several days, talk with your healthcare provider before starting again. 

• If you take too much JALYN, call your healthcare provider or go to the nearest 
hospital emergency room right away. 

What should I avoid while taking JALYN? 

• Avoid driving, operating machinery, or other dangerous activities when starting 
treatment with JALYN until you know how JALYN affects you. JALYN can cause a 
sudden drop in your blood pressure, especially at the start of treatment. A sudden 
drop in blood pressure may cause you to faint, feel dizzy or lightheaded. 

• You should not donate blood while taking JALYN or for 6 months after you have 
stopped JALYN. This is important to prevent pregnant women from receiving 
JALYN through blood transfusions. 

What are the possible side effects of JALYN? 
JALYN may cause serious side effects, including: 

• Decreased blood pressure. JALYN may cause a sudden drop in your blood 
pressure upon standing from a sitting or lying position, especially at the start of 
treatment. Symptoms of low blood pressure may include: 

• fainting 

• dizziness 

• feeling lightheaded 

• Rare and serious allergic reactions, including: 

• swelling of your face, tongue, or throat 

• serious skin reactions, such as skin peeling 

Get medical help right away if you have these serious allergic reactions. 

• Higher chance of a more serious form of prostate cancer. 

• Eye problems during cataract surgery. During cataract surgery, a condition 
called intraoperative floppy iris syndrome (IFIS) can happen if you take or have 
taken JALYN in the past. If you need to have cataract surgery, tell your surgeon if 
you take or have taken JALYN. 

• A painful erection that will not go away. Rarely, JALYN can cause a painful 
erection (priapism), which cannot be relieved by having sex. If this happens, 



get medical help right away. If priapism is not treated, there could be lasting 
damage to your penis, including not being able to have an erection. 

The most common side effects of JALYN include: 

• ejaculation problems 

• trouble getting or keeping an erection (impotence) 

• a decrease in sex drive (libido) 

• dizziness 

• enlarged or painful breasts. If you notice breast lumps or nipple discharge, you 
should talk to your healthcare provider. 

• runny nose 

Dutasteride, an ingredient of JALYN, has been shown to reduce sperm count, semen 
volume, and sperm movement. However, the effect of JALYN on male fertility is not 
known. 

Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test: Your healthcare provider may check you for 
other prostate problems, including prostate cancer, before you start and while you 
take JALYN. A blood test called PSA (prostate-specific antigen) is sometimes used to 
see if you might have prostate cancer. JALYN will reduce the amount of PSA 
measured in your blood. Your healthcare provider is aware of this effect and can still 
use PSA to see if you might have prostate cancer. Increases in your PSA levels while 
on treatment with JALYN (even if the PSA levels are in the normal range) should be 
evaluated by your healthcare provider. 

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that 
does not go away. 

These are not all the possible side effects with JALYN. For more information, ask 
your healthcare provider or pharmacist 

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to 
theFDAat1-800-FDA-1088. 

How should I store JALYN? 

• Store JALYN Capsules at room temperature (59° to 86°F or 15° to 30°C). 

• JALYN Capsules may become deformed and/or discolored if kept at high 
temperatures. 

• Do not use or touch JALYN if your capsules are deformed, discolored, or leaking. 

• Safely throw away medicine that is no longer needed. 

Keep JALYN and all medicines out of the reach of children. 

Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in a 
patient page. Do not use JALYN for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do 
not give JALYN to other people, even if they have the same symptoms that you 
have. It may harm them. 

This patient information page summarizes the most important information about 
JALYN. If you would like more information, talk with your healthcare provider. You 
can ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider for information about JALYN that is 
written for health professionals. 

For more information, go to www.JALYN.com or call 1-888-825-5249. 

What are the ingredients in JALYN? 

Active ingredients: dutasteride and tamsulosin hydrochloride 

Inactive ingredients: black ink, butylated hydroxytoluene, carrageenan, FD&C 

yellow 6, ferric oxide (yellow), gelatin (from certified BSE-free bovine sources), 

glycerin, hypromellose, iron oxide red, methacrylic acid copolymer dispersion, 

microcrystalline cellulose, mono-di-glycerides of caprylic/capric acid, potassium 

chloride, talc, titanium dioxide, and triethyl citrate. 

How does JALYN work? 

JALYN contains 2 medications, dutasteride and tamsulosin. These 2 medications 
work in different ways to improve symptoms of BPH. Dutasteride shrinks the 
enlarged prostate and tamsulosin relaxes muscles in the prostate and neck of the 
bladder. These 2 medications, when used together, can improve symptoms of BPH 
better than either medication when used alone. 

Jointly Manufactured by 

Catalent Pharma Solutions 

F-67930 Beinheim, France 

D-73614 Schorndorf, Germany 

and 

Rottendorf Pharma GmbH 

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Driving enthusiasts who get behind the wheel of the Euro-spec 
Mazda CX-5 will immediately want one. Thanks in part to the use 
of high-strength steel to lighten the chassis, it has exceptional 
handling. And the responsive 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G (gasoline) and 
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performance is a core value for every- 
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Europe gets a choice of gasoline or diesel, 
six-speed manual or automatic transmis- 
sion, and front- or all-wheel drive. 
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engine and the FWD/AWD choices, but 
availability of the crisp, Miata-like 
manual and the diesel are not definite, 
especially together. Yet that was the most 
fun version we drove, and it also rode on 
grippy summer-only tires, while the U.S. 
model will have all-weather rubber. The 
lightweight chassis and handling 
character should translate intact, and the 
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P0PULARMECHANICS.COM I JANUARY 2012 39 



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The College Bubble 

> BY GLENN HARLAN REYNOLDS 

> ILLUSTRATION BY IAN KIM 



SKYROCKETING TUITION AND 

DANGEROUSLY HIGH STUDENT 

DEBT CAN'T CONTINUE FOREVER. 

IT'S TIME FOR FRESH IDEAS. 





S BUBBLES BURST IN ONE ECONOMIC SECTOR 

after another, we're now hearing talk of a "higher 
education bubble," in which cost increases, 
buoyed by cheap government loans, may be hit- 
ting their limit. Can technology save the day? Or 
does the problem go deeper than that? 

No one disputes that college and graduate- 
school costs have skyrocketed. In recent decades, 
college tuition has increased at more than four 
times the rate of inflation, outpacing even 
medical-care costs and amounting to a 439 per- 
cent increase between 1982 and 2007. As Forbes 
recently noted, just a decade ago a year of college 
cost 18 percent of a typical family's annual 
income — now it has hit 25 percent and prices are 



continuing to rise. At public four-year 
schools, for instance, total costs rose 
6 percent in 2011, to $17,131— far 
outstripping inflation. 

The causes are debated. Some 
blame palatial facilities and reduced 
teaching loads for professors, while 
one recent study fingered bloat in the 
ranks of administrators. 

As tuition has risen, students and 
their families have made up the dif- 
ference by borrowing. The New York 
Times ran a sad story about a woman 
who had amassed nearly $100,000 in 
student loan debt pursuing a degree 
in women's and religious studies at 
New York University, only to find her- 
self virtually unemployable upon 
graduation. Even students who major 
in programs shown to increase earn- 
ings, like engineering, face limits to 
how much debt they can sanely 
amass. With costs approaching 
$60,000 a year for many private 
schools, and out-of-state costs at 
many state schools exceeding $40,000 
(and often closing in on $30,000 for 
in-state students), some people are 
graduating with debts of $100,000 or 
more. That's dangerous. 

The rule of thumb is that college- 
debt payments should account for 
less than 8 percent of gross income. 
Otherwise, watch out — and remem- 
ber that loan payments are usually 
not dischargeable in bankruptcy. The 
loans can follow you for decades. 

Economist Herbert Stein famous- 
ly wrote that if something can't go on 
forever, it won't. So college costs can't 
rise forever. The question is, what will 
happen next? It seems unlikely that 
college will return to its pre-World 
War II role as a finishing; school for 



POPULARMECHANICS.COM I JANUARY 2012 43 



THINKING AH E AD/// 
COLLEGE BUBBLE 



the wealthy. When education boost- 
ers tout college as essential to com- 
petitiveness in the global economy, 
they're mostly right (even though 
some workers can earn more and 
achieve higher job satisfaction in a 
skilled trade). The key to bringing col- 
lege costs under control will be get- 
ting more bang for less buck. That's a 
challenge where technology might 
lend a hand, but only after some basic 
questions are addressed. 

The first step is to ensure that stu- 
dents are actually learning useful 
things. This isn't much of a problem 
in engineering schools and the like, 
but in many other areas "core sub- 
jects" have been shortchanged. A 
recent survey of more than 700 
schools by the American Council of 
Trustees and Alumni found that many 
have virtually no requirements. Per- 
haps that's why students are studying 
50 percent less than they were a cou- 
ple of decades ago. 

Once this issue is addressed, 
there's plenty of room for 
improvement on the tech- 
nological front. In the old 
days, professors were few, 
and it made sense for stu- 
dents to travel hundreds of 
miles to study with them. 
But today, once you move 
onto a campus, much of 
your learning, especially in 
the first couple of years, 
takes place in huge lecture 
halls where one professor 
addresses hundreds of stu- 
dents — or gets a teaching 
assistant to do it. 

Some students are saving 
money by doing their first 
two years at community col- 
lege. The quality of instruc- 
tion is often better, and the 
classes smaller, than in 
four-year institutions where 
professors focus more on 
research than on teaching. 

That's a worthwhile strat- 
egy, but innovation at four- 
year institutions could help 




SKILLED TRADES LIKE ELECTRICAL WORK AND 

PLUMBING FACE A SHORTAGE OF QUALIFIED WORKERS, 

AND THESE FIELDS PAY WAGES THAT COMPARE 

FAVORABLY WITH THOSE EARNED BY COLLEGE GRADS. 



too. Now that webcasts are a routine 
feature of corporate training, perhaps 
it's time to make better use of the 
Web for education. Take the top 
teachers in a field and let students at 
multiple colleges access their lectures 
online. (Sure, there's not a lot of inter- 
action that way — but how much is 
there in a 200-student lecture class 
anyway?) Once the basic information 
is covered, students can apply it in 
smaller, advanced classes, in person. 
Would this save money? Possibly — 
and it would almost certainly produce 
better results. 

The online approach is used by the 
popular Khan Academy, where lec- 
tures are viewed by students at their 
convenience and skills are perfected 
via video-game-like software, and the 
followup is done in a classroom, with 
a teacher's oversight. The idea is to 



OUTSTRIPPING INFLATION 

The average yearly cost (tuition, fees, room and board) 
for a private four-year institution is $38,589. If hikes 
had matched inflation since 1980, the cost would be 
$15,403. Public-school costs outstrip inflation as well. 



$40,000 
$35,000 
$30,000 
$25,000 
$20,000 
$15,000 
$10,000 
$5000 



1 


■ 


■ 




II 




1 


■ 








s 






1 


PRIVATE 4-YEAR 


' 




m 




^^M 


^ 






1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 

SOURCES: COLLEGE BOARD, CONSUMER PRICE INDEX 



take advantage of mass delivery where 
it works best, and to allow individual- 
ized attention where it helps most. 

The Khan Academy has gotten a 
lot of attention, but it's not the last 
word in technological progress in 
education. What's striking is that it 
has come from outside the education- 
al establishment. Then again, break- 
throughs often come from people 
working outside the old industries. 
Anya Kamenetz's book DIY U talks 
about "edupunks" who are exploring 
unconventional thinking about teach- 
ing and learning. In fact, the best way 
to master many subjects may be for 
students to find their own path, with 
the role of the education establish- 
ment being more to certify compe- 
tence than to actually teach. In one 
way, that's how it works already. 

Right now, a college degree is an 
expensive signifier that its 
holder has a basic ability to 
show up on time (mostly), to 
follow instructions (reason- 
ably well), and to deal with 
others in close quarters with- 
out committing serious felo- 
nies. In some fields, it may 
also indicate important 
background knowledge and 
skills, but most students will 
require further on-the-job 
training. An institution that 
could provide similar certifi- 
cation without requiring four 
(or more) years and a six- 
figure investment would 
have a huge advantage, espe- 
cially if employers found that 
certification to be a more 
reliable indicator of compe- 
tence than a college degree. 
Couple that with apprentice- 
ship programs or internships 
and you might not need col- 
lege for many careers. 

The major problem with 
this plan is that college now 



44 JANUARY 2012 | P0PULARMECHANICS.COM 



serves largely as a status marker, a 
sign of membership in the educated 
"caste." However, the sight of college 
graduates buried in debt may change 
that. We're already seeing signs of a 
shift in popular culture, with advice- 
column pieces appearing that discuss 
women and men whose huge student 
debt makes them unmanageable. At 
any rate, American culture at its best 
values people more for what they do 
than for their membership in a 
caste — now is a good time to assert 
that preference. 

At the very least, students (and par- 
ents) should be looking more critical- 
ly at what a specific course of study 
offers. Research by Georgetown Uni- 
versity's Center on Education and the 
Workforce found that people who 
major in computer science, business, 
or engineering get a big lifetime- 
earnings boost, while people who 
major in the humanities don't do 
nearly as well. That's not a reason to 
look down on the humanities, but 
with college growing ever more expen- 
sive, a degree that won't add to your 
earnings potential isn't an invest- 
ment, but an expensive consumer 
item. It may be nice to have — but so is 
a Ferrari, another expensive consum- 
er item. The difference is, nobody's 
encouraging 18-year-olds to take on 
six-figure debt to buy a Ferrari. 

There are many paths to increased 
earnings that don't involve college 
and that have smaller upfront costs: 
Skilled trades such as electrical work 
and plumbing face a constant short- 
age of qualified workers as Americans 
increasingly disdain manual labor, 
and these fields pay wages that com- 
pare very favorably with those earned 
by college graduates. There's an addi- 
tional advantage to these hands-on 
jobs: They're harder to outsource. If 
you're a so-called knowledge worker 
in the global information economy, 
you're in competition with smart peo- 
ple all over the planet. If you fix cars 
or HVAC units, you're competing only 
with the folks in your neighborhood. 

These attractions, The Washington 
Post reported last year, are leading a 
number of college-educated people 
to jump tracks and take up trades. 
Such people often cite the satisfac- 



tion of hands-on work — and com- 
pared with many drone-like cubicle 
jobs, a trade career can be more intel- 
lectually stimulating. If you might be 
one of those people, why not skip the 
college and save the money? Commu- 
nity colleges and state vocational- 
technical colleges offer training in 
subjects such as plumbing, welding, 
and electrical work, and a licensed 
journeyman can make S65,000 to 
$85,000 a year. 

Of course, that change would 
make life tougher on professors, such 



as, er, me. But in the 21st-century 
economy, people or institutions who 
don't add value don't last long. The 
higher education establishment 
needs to ask itself if it's really adding 
value commensurate with the costs, 
and what it should be doing different- 
ly — before it's too late. pm 

Full disclosure: Glenn Harlan Reynolds 
is a law professor at the University 
of Tennessee. He is also a blogger 
(instapundit.com) and author, most 
recently, of An Army of Davids. 




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10 Tech Concepts for 2012 



A food process- 
ing unit at Ohio 
State University 
subjects a fresh 
bell pepper to 
over 600 mega- 
pascals (87,000 
psi) of pressure. 





■■■■ ■■■■■■ ■ ■■■■ 



I 



■■ ■■■■■■ ■■ 
■■■■ ■■■■■ 
■■■■ ■■■■■■ 



Pascalization 

Louis Pasteur's name is 
synonymous with food 
preservation, but it's 
another long-dead French 
scientist, mathematician, 
and philosopher whose research is 
changing the way we think about food: 
Blaise Pascal. Pascalization, commonly 
known as high-pressure processing 
(HPP), is a method by which food is sub- 
jected to extreme water pressure — 
sometimes up to 80,000 pounds a square 
inch — inside long, cylindrical metal 
chambers. This destroys living cells, 
including harmful bacteria such as E. coli 
and listeria, while leaving the texture and 
flavor of many foods surprisingly intact. 

Sauces, fruit juices, guacamole, lunch 
meats, and fish hold up well to pascaliza- 
tion, and treated versions of these foods 
can be found in stores today. But falling 
equipment costs, demand for longer 
shelf lives, and a rash of bad PR for HPP's 
competition, food irradiation, will bring 
pascalization into the mainstream, says 
V. M. Balasubramaniam, a professor of 
food safety engineering at Ohio State Uni- 
versity. "The food industry is conserva- 
tive in terms of new tech," he says, "but 
in recent years the industry has grown 
into a multibillion-dollar business." 
Some extreme applications for pascal- 
ization include edible raw shellfish, and 
precooked eggs and omelets that can be 
stored at room temperature — for years. 



TRENDING 




Plastic Muscles 

Functional electroactive polymers (EAPs), known colloquially as plastic muscles, have been in 
development for decades, but their applications have been limited. (In 2005, the International 
Society for Optical Engineering held its first EAP versus human arm-wrestling match. Don't 
worry — the human won.) Recent research, however, has unlocked new potential for EAPs beyond 
sensors, actuators, and fanciful experiments. By placing large, flat spokes of EAP material 
between a floating hub and a fixed outer wheel, researchers at the Auckland Bioengineering 
Institute's Biomimetics Lab in New Zealand have been able to create a rotary motor, which could 
directly compete with the ubiquitous magnet-based electric motors in many low-power applica- 
tions. The technology has drawn interest from NASA for its potentially high energy efficiency. 



46 JANUARY 2012 I P0PULARMECHANICS.COM 



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I' M 



BIG IDEAS/// 
10 TECH CONCEPTS 




HAPPENING NOW 



Supertruck 

What does it mean for 
a long-haul truck to be 
"super"? According to 
new standards set by 
the Department of Energy, it means 
that it's 50 percent more fuel efficient 
than today's hardware — a goal the 
agency, with the help of Volvo, Daimler, 
Cummins, Peterbilt, and Navistar, 
hopes to hit by 2015. The new goals are 
specific to Class 8 trucks, which have 
loaded curb weights of 33,000 pounds 
or more; a full-to-capacity base-model 
Ford F-150 weighs about 6500 pounds. 
More than S180 million has been 
allocated by the DOE to engine and 
trailer manufacturers for a variety of 
projects, some reaching or nearing 
deployment. Near-term goals include 
wide-base low-rolling-resistance tires, 
active tire-pressure monitoring, hybrid 
drivetrains, and new trailer shapes. 




Daimler Trucks is working on dramati- 
cally reducing the size and weight of its 
diesel engines, and Cummins is part- 
nering with Peterbilt to produce a clean 
diesel engine with a waste-heat recovery 



mechanism. What will make these 
supertrucks recognizable on the road, 
though, is their exterior: Aerodynamic 
trailers, cabins, and wheel skirts pro- 
vide an almost sci-fi appeal. 



BEHIND THE SCENES 

SUBCONSCIOUS MODE 

Anyone who has woken up to a dead phone can attest that mobile devices 
suck energy whether you're using them or not. That's because, even 
when a device is inactive — say, in your pocket with the screen off — it 
remains alert for wireless data transmissions, in a state known as idle 
listening. University of Michigan researchers have developed a technol- 
ogy called Energy-Minimizing Idle Listening, or subconscious mode, which dramati- 
cally lowers the rate at which a device's Wi-Fi card retrieves data packets. By selectively 
listening only for small headers, or tags, the device is able to anticipate incoming data 
and open up its full wireless connection capabilities accordingly. In testing, subcon- 
scious mode reduced energy consumption by 44 percent in current mobile devices. 



HAPPENING NOW 



TRENDING 





Mobile Instant Messaging 

BlackBerry Messenger 
(BBM) paved the way for 
Internet-based mobile 
instant messaging. Apple, 
Google, and Microsoft 
now have MIM services 
of their own, sentencing 
overpriced texting plans 
to a well-deserved death. 



Koomey's Law 




If one piece of computer 
science trivia can be said 
to have entered the collec- 
tive consciousness, it's 
Moore's law. First formu- 
lated in 1965 by Intel co-founder Gordon 
Moore, it states that the number of 
transistors that can be placed on an 
integrated circuit will double every two 
years. In other words, processors become 
roughly twice as powerful every other 
year. Moore's law is still holding strong, 
but it has little to say about energy effi- 
ciency. Koomey's law is a proven comput- 
ing law for the modern age, where watt- 
age trumps all. Initially observed by 
Jonathan Koomey of Stanford University, 
Koomey's law states that the amount of 
computing power per joule — effectively 
per watt — doubles every one and a half 
years. This trend tells us about the future 
of computing's most exciting areas in a 
way that Moore's law can't, with equal 
relevance to battery-dependent smart- 
phones and unfathomably powerful — 
and power-hungry — supercomputers. 



ILLUSTRATIONS BY LA TIGRE 




o 





TRENDING 



Convergent Encryption 

Server space, while cheaper than ever, still costs money. People have justifiable reser- 
vations about storing private data on a company's servers. But of all the hurdles faced 
by cloud computing; services, bandwidth is the highest: It takes hours to upload one 
gigabyte over a typical broadband Internet connection. Bitcasa, a new startup, is offer- 
ing full cloud backup — everything on a computer — for $10 a month, using a technique 
called convergent encryption. Bitcasa's software assigns an anonymous hash, or iden- 
tifier, to files before they're uploaded. If that hash already exists on Bitcasa's servers, it 
isn't re-uploaded; a popular song owned by millions would exist only once on Bitcasa's 
servers. This lets a Bitcasa user securely back up hundreds of gigabytes of data over an 
Internet connection that otherwise would have been prohibitively slow. 




TRENDING 



Flywheel Hybrids 

To store kinetic energy 
in a battery, it must first 
be converted into elec- 
tricity — a process that 
makes battery-powered 
hybrid cars inherently inefficient. 
Flywheel hybrids sidestep this problem 
in an elegantly simple way: Kinetic 
energy is stored as kinetic energy, in a 
spinningwheel. 

In specialized applications, flywheel 
hybrids have been in use for decades. 
Switzerland deployed flywheel-assisted 
buses in the early '50s; an industry con- 
sortium called Flybus is currently test- 
ing a modern update on the concept. 
Porsche has even demonstrated the 
technology in a race-ready concept car, 
the 767-hp 918 RSR. In a much larger 
form, flywheel batteries serve as a grid- 
storage technology, holding excess 
energy during off-peak-usage hours. 

Until this year, flywheel storage in 
mainstream cars has been elusive. A 
team of car companies, including 
Ford, Jaguar, and Land Rover, has 
joined with motorsports companies 
Flybrid Systems and Prodrive to 
develop a carbon-composite flywheel 
battery, driven by a brake-powered 
continuously variable transmission 
and housed in a partial vacuum. In 
real-world testing, the consortium saw 
fuel-efficiency improvements of 22.4 
percent over unassisted engines. At 
peak power, the flywheel returned 
80 hp to the car's drivetrain. 

Flywheel hybrids also promise to be 
easier on the environment after death. 
Chemical batteries require special dis- 
posal measures; flywheels don't. 



HAPPENING NOW 



Games With a Purpose (GWAPs) 



GWAPs apply human 
intuition to computational 
problems. By "playing" a 
3D protein simulation on 
their PCs, lay users 
decoded the structure of a 
retrovirus protein that had 
stumped scientists for 
years in just a few days. 





BEHIND THE SCENES 



MOBILE LIDAR 



You probably haven't seen one of Google's self-driving cars cruising 
down the road — yet. Nonetheless, the search company's (mostly) driver- 
less fleet has been quietly racking up hundreds of thousands of miles on 
public asphalt in California and Nevada. (There has been one crash, 
though Google insists that, at the time of impact, the car was under 
human control.) These autonomous vehicles depend on military-grade optical sensing 
technology called light detection and ranging, or lidar. The camera mounted atop 
Google's cars renders a 360-degree, three-dimensional view of the car's surroundings, 
which Google's navigational software interprets and reacts to in real time. PM 




P0PULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 49 




'••^..^•SbSILw *-* . 



Long-Term Test Cars 

MAZDA'S AGILE HATCHBACK DEPARTS AS WE 
WELCOME A COMPELLING SUV FROM KIA. 




+ 
I'M TEST 
DRIVEN 

+ 




2012SorentoSXAWD 



FIRST report 

Like its parent company, Hyundai, Kia 

is making the right kind of noise with 
value-priced vehicles that don't feel cut-rate. 
Our loaded Sorento SX runs about 10 grand 
less than other SUVs with similar features, 
but there's slim evidence of cost cutting. 
With a 276-hp V-6, the Sorento accelerates 
briskly, and the handling is crisp for such a 
big guy. We have, however, noticed a few 
money-saving moves. The driver's seat, for 
example, is heated and cooled, but the 



passenger gets only heat. The driver rules, 
right? Otherwise, the inside is quiet and 
roomy— except for the third row, which fits 
just kids. Still, for about 37 large, the 
Sorento comes with such luxuries as a 
heated steering wheel, a nav system and 
rear-seat HVAC. Plus, there's that stellar 
powertrain warranty: 10 years/100,000 
miles. We'll see how this sometime 
off-roader survives a year of pothole-filled 
New York City. - larry webster 



Base price: 

$35,650 
As tested: 

$37,150 

Extra-cost 
options: 

Power sunroof 

Drivetrain: 

3.5-liter V-6, 6A, 
AWD 

Engine 
performance: 

276 hp, 248 Ib-ft 
of torque 

EPA fuel 
economy: 

18 city/ 
24 highway 



PHOTOGRAPH BY FOUR EYES 




P0PULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 51 



PM LONG-TERM TEST CARS 



DRIVERS 


and the rear-seat 


DATA SO FAR 


Miles since last 


NOTEBOOK 


entertainment 


As tested: 


report: 6414 




system hypnotizes 


$45,480 


Fuel economy: 


• Cushy appoint- 


the most unruly of 


Previous 


Average— 17.9 mp 


ments turned 


children. 


reports: 


Worst— 14.2 mpg 


highway time into 


• The adaptive cruise 


See 06/11, 


Best— 24.2 mpg 


comfy time— heated 


control, which 


09/11 


Maintenance/ 


and cooled seats 


automatically slows 


Miles driven: 


repair since last 


cater to the 


with traffic, diffuses 


10,779 


report: $0 


temperature- 


the monotony of 




Overall: $31 


sensitive posterior, 


endless asphalt. 







2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 



THIRD report 

You hear it all the time— most off-road 
vehicles rarely encounter anything more 
challenging than a speed bump. But we 
took our Jeep Grand Cherokee on a trip 
up to a well-hidden lakeside lodge in 
New York state's Adirondack Moun- 
tains— 6 hours of interstate followed by 
8 miles of seriously muddy and unkempt 
logging trails. The Cherokee proved itself 
a formidable dirt hog, with features such 
as hill descent, a terrain dial (will you be 
dining on snow, sand, or rocks today, 
sir?), and an air suspension system that 
can boost clearance by up to 2.6 inches. 
These amenities gave the vehicle 
incredibly confident footing off-road 
(although the highest clearance setting 
makes for a tooth-jarring ride). That 
said, the Overland model is a spoiled 
rich relative to the $27,490 4x2 Laredo, 
which we'd probably be shopping if it 
were our own money. At least they share 
the same marvelous 3.6-liter 290-hp V-6 
engine, which was smooth and powerful, 
and ours still returned up to 24.2 mpg. 

- GLENN DERENE 



2011 Mazda2 Touring 



Just how much car does one need? That was the question 
that constantly swirled during our 12 months with Mazda's 
diminutive hatchback. For commuting duties and in-town 
errand-running, the sprightly car distinguished itself as a 
four-wheeled energy drink. It sliced into cramped parking lots, 
zinged through congested highways, and regularly returned 
mid-30s mpg. Its simple interior layout felt less like we were 
making do with a cheap car and more like a welcome relief 
from overly complicated design. But when out on an open 
highway, the 2's four-speed automatic proved a gear or two 
short and kept the engine in a high-rpm buzz. Not only was that 
behavior irritating, it also hurt the fuel economy. In this car, the 
standard five-speed manual is the better option. Transmission 
aside, the 2 was surprisingly roomy inside and stable— even 
during a high-speed run across Nevada. We'd wager the 
inexpensive 2 is enough car for most drivers. - larry webster 




drivers * After a 12-day, 5000-mile cross-country 

notebook trip, the driver said, "I never cramped, and 

my usually sensitive back felt fine." 
• Need another reason to skip the 
automatic? The five-speed manual ups the 
EPA fuel economy from 27/33 to 29/35. 



END DATA 

As tested: $17,275 
Previous reports: 

See 03/11, 06/11, 
09/11 



Miles driven: 

16,416 

Miles since last 
report: 6806 
Fuel economy: 

Average— 29.8 mpg 



Worst— 21.5 mpg 
Best— 39.7 mpg 
Maintenance/ 
repair since last 
report: $81 
Overall: $81 





the mm 

SECRET 

WAR 












I 



PopularMechanics 

Cover Story 



POPULARMECHANICS.COM I JANUARY 2012 53 




X 1 





Foreign spies are 
hacking tne com- 
puters orAmerican 
industry and bleed- 
ing billions out of 
our economy. PM 
explores the dark, 
relentless scourge of 
digital espionage. 





I {i u 



HE FIRST WARNING THAT HACKERS HAD PENETRATED 
the American oil company came soon after the initial breach, 
in the summer of 2009. The computer help desk received com- 
plaints from employees who were locked out of their accounts 
or whose computers had already been logged onto. 

Then the complaints abruptly ceased: The digital spies had 
obtained an administrator password and were intercepting 
help-desk tickets, unlocking accounts, and notifying users that 
their problems had been fixed. With that access, the hackers 
copied thousands of confidential emails — including those of 



Photograph by James Worrell Models by Megan Caponetto I 












54 JANUARY 2012 I POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



top executives — and transmitted them to China in massive files late at 
night, after the oil company's employees had left for the day. 

By the time the FBI informed the company of suspicious network 
traffic in the summer of 2010, Chinese firms had outbid the oil company 
on several high-stakes acquisitions by just a few thousand dollars. But 
it could have been far worse: For months, malware that allowed the 
hackers to take over terminals had been burrowing deeper into 
the company's systems and had wormed its way into computers that 
controlled oil-drilling and pipeline operations. 

"People were alarmed that their email was compromised, but 
the hackers could have crippled the business," says Jonathan Pollet, the 
founder of Red Tiger Security in Houston. In early 2011, Pollet helped 
the oil company identify some of the hackers' breaches; he refused to 
name the company, citing a confidentiality agreement. 

The example Pollet cites is just one incident in an ongoing, aggressive 
campaign of electronic espionage that costs U.S. firms billions of dollars, 
endangers our military secrets, and threatens to erode our technological 
edge, as computer hackers — often but not exclusively traced to China — 
help their clients, and their countries, gain the upper hand in business 
deals and steal intellectual property. (An October 2011 report prepared 
for the Director of National Intelligence titled "Foreign Spies Stealing 
U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace" explicitly accuses China and 
Russia of hacking U.S. companies, calling Chinese hackers "the world's 
most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage.") 

The phenomenon blurs the lines between white-collar crime, inter- 
national spying, and even acts of war, but the attacks are known in the 
intelligence community as advanced persistent threats, or APTs. Well- 
financed, patient teams of hackers that U.S. intelligence agencies 
believe are backed by foreign governments now constitute a major 
national security risk. The hackers use tactics that are inherently diffi- 
cult to trace and choose targets that have deep roots within U.S. 
infrastructure, government, and military. Recent news accounts have 
identified APT victims that include Google, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch 
Shell, Morgan Stanley, Dow Chemical, 
Symantec, Northrop Grumman, and 
Lockheed Martin, to name just a few. 

Private industry is understandably 
reluctant to reveal such breaches, even to 
the government: If a digital attack strikes 
fear in the hearts of a company's execu- 
tives, one can only imagine how it would 
make shareholders feel. But digital spy- 
ing is like a cockroach infestation — for 
every one that you see, thousands thrive 
out of view. "I can't find an organization, 
an entity, a business, or a department that 
hasn't suffered from cyber intrusions," 
says Gordon M. Snow, assistant director 




Hacked: 

Heads of 

State 





of the FBI's Cyber Division. "If they really 
believe they haven't, they're just not 
aware of it yet." 

In August 2011, a report by the security 
firm McAfee detailed hacks into some 72 
public and private computer networks in 
14 countries and warned of "the biggest 
transfer of wealth in terms of intellectual 
property in history." 

Technology theft is the most common 
motive for digital espionage, but China 
and other nations have used it to squelch 
internal political dissent as well. Stolen 
source code from Google was used to 
hack into the accounts of Chinese dissi- 
dents, and after an Iranian hacker broke 
into Dutch security firm DigiNotar, the 
stolen technology was used to help his 
government spy on troublemakers in 
Iran. These attacks can cause collateral 
damage that compromises the security of 
everyone online. Digital security certifi- 
cates from DigiNotar were part of the 
basic verification system of the Internet. 
If you can fake one of those, you can fool 
a browser into thinking any site is safe. 

A History of Hacks 

'the united states ITSELF IS NO 
slouch at cyber spying. The National 
Security Agency and the Pentagon pos- 
sess the most sophisticated signals intel- 
ligence and digital warfare technology in 
the world. That gives us 
the ability to spy on for- 
eign cellphone calls, shut 
down enemy air defenses, 
or even remotely cause 
equipment in an adver- 
sary's weapons facility to 
self-destruct. 

But former U.S. offi- 
cials insist the govern- 
ment does not engage in 
economic espionage or 
intellectual property theft 
from foreign companies. 
In part, they contend, 



erman chancellor Angela Merkel (above) confronted China's premier, Wen Jiabao, during 
a 2007 state visit to Beijing after the magazine Der Spiegel reported that computers in the 
German chancellery had been infiltrated by Chinese inalware. German officials traced the 
attack back to Trojan programs hidden inside Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files. The 
officials discovered the software trying to offload 160 gigabytes of data from government 
computers and send it to a botnet of hijacked computers in South Korea. The Germans 
believed the botnet was controlled by the People's Liberation Army. 



ILLUSTRATION BY JACOPO ROSATI 



WHO'S SPYING ON WHOM? 



High-tech espionage is a game with no rules. In this secretive 
world, rival countnes and multinational companies use 
invasive software, moles, and talented hackers to stab each 
other in the back. — Joe Pappalardo 



/I 






ICONS 


o 


ECONOMIC THEFT 


© 


SECRETS 


® 


MILITARY 
TECHNOLOGY 


© 


POLITICAL 
OPPRESSION 


© 


SABOTAGE 




u 



© 



CHINA AND CISCO 
VS FALUN GONG 
Chinese spiritual group 
Falun Gong files suit in May 
201 1 , claiming the U.S. tech 
firm Cisco violated interna- 
tional law by helping the 
Chinese government track 

Falun Gong members 

through the Golden Shield 

digital spy system. Cisco 

denies the claims. 




O © 



CHINA VS JAPAN 

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 

September 2011 reports a 

cyber attack on its networks 

aimed at grabbing data 

about missiles, submarines, 

and nuclear power plants. 

The method: spear-phishing 

messages with malware 

programs loaded into them. 

Japanese investigators 

publicly implicate China. 



y 



«p) 



H v-l 



O© 






CHINA VS 
LOCKHEED 

MARTIN 
In March 2011, 
intruders traced to 
China steal informa- 
tion from security 
company RSA about its 
SecurlD tokens. The 
hackers then use fake 

SecurlD tokens to 

break into the systems 

of Lockheed Martin. 



<3l 



V 



o © o 

CHINA VS U.S. 
Chi Mak, a Chinese-born 

electrical engineer 
working for U.S. defense 
contractor L-3, is heard 
on FBI wiretaps discuss- 
ing ways to smuggle 
encrypted files with 
sensitive data about U.S. 
Navy ships into China. 
A U.S. federal judge 
sentences Chi to 24.5 
years in prison in 2008; 

China denies any 
connection to the case. 



U.S. AND ISRAEL 

VS IRAN 

The Stuxnet computer worm, 

which sabotages equipment by 

injecting bad code into its logic 

controllers, is discovered in 

June 2010. Experts say Stuxnet 

was engineered to destroy 

centrifuges used in Iran's 

nuclear program. Israel and 

the U.S. are widely suspected of 

having created the 

complicated malware. 



v^ 



o © 



o 



© 



© © 



© 



LOCKHEED MARTIN 

VS SOUTH KOREA 

Korean prosecutors charge 

military officials, including 

former chief of staff Kim 

Sang-tae, with emailing 

classified defense plans to 

the U.S.-based defense giant. 

Prosecutors say the 

company wanted to 

influence bids on pending 

arms deals. Kim's trial was 

under way at press time. 



CHINA VS FRANCE 

The newspaper he Monde 

reports a 2010 attack on the 

computer networks of French 

firm Turbomeca. The 

attackers, traced to China, 

gained access to sensitive 

information about propeller 

systems and impending 

contracts. 




FRANCE VS GERMANY 
"France is the empire of evil in 
terms of technology theft, and 
Germany knows it," said Berry 
Smutny, head of German 
satellite company OHB 
Technology, in a 2009 diplo- 
matic cable. The communique, 
leaked in 2011, discusses rival 

contracts for a satellite 

navigation system. Smutny is 

suspended after the cable 

becomes public. 



IRAN VS 

NETHERLANDS 

An Iranian hacker, or hackers, 

steals Web security certificates 

from Dutch firm DigiNotar in 

June 2011. The phony 

certificates are used to 

intercept the messages of 

about 300,000 Iranian Gmail 

users. Published reports link 

the hackers to the Iranian 

government. 



56 JANUARY 2012 I POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



that's because there is little IP we would want to steal, and to do so would 
undercut our efforts to discourage such theft by other nations. Private 
U.S. companies, meanwhile, would be breaking U.S. law if they hacked 
into the servers of state-owned competitors in places like China and Rus- 
sia — although some U.S. multinationals have been accused of dirty busi- 
ness overseas (see "Who's Spying on Whom?" page 55). "The U.S. has an 
enormous stake in the integrity of the intellectual property regime," says 
Joel Brenner, former head of U.S. counterintelligence during the Bush 
and Obama administrations and the author of America the Vulnerable, a 
book on digital espionage published last September. "Many of our adver- 
saries don't believe we don't do this. But it's really true. We don't." 
According to James Lewis, a digital security expert at the Washington, 
D.C. -based Center for Strategic and International Studies, this apparent 
unwillingness to retaliate presents "an asymmetric disadvantage" that 
our rivals are exploiting to win an emerging digital cold war. 

Computer espionage has a history almost as long as that of the mod- 
ern Internet. In the late 1980s, the German hacker Markus Hess and sev- 
eral associates were recruited by the KGB to penetrate computers at 
American universities and military labs. They made off with sensitive 
semiconductor, satellite, space, and aircraft technologies. Today, China, 
Israel, and Russia are reportedly the most aggressive about stealing 
secrets. But China is playing a game of a different magnitude. "The Chi- 
nese didn't create this problem," Brenner says. "But there's no question 
China is the worst offender now. They are all over us. It's just relentless." 

Experts believe today's attacks on U.S. industry are an extension of a 
series of attacks on American military computer networks that took 
place in the late '90s and early 2000s. The assault has netted the Chinese 
sensitive military technologies that might 
one day be used against us. Then, as now, 
the Chinese government has vehemently 
denied that it has any state-sponsored 
hacking program, calling U.S. allegations 
groundless and irresponsible. 

Plausible deniability is precisely what 
makes digital espionage such an effective 
tool. It's difficult to detect and impossi- 
ble to prove — and thus can't be used 
to justify retaliation. Digital-security 
experts call this the attribution problem. 
"At most, you know the immediate 
computer involved in attacking you or 
receiving the stolen data — and some- 
times you don't even know that," says 
Columbia University computer scientist 
Steven Bellovin, who advises the Depart- 
ment of Homeland Security on the issue. 
"But you don't know who actually controls 
the computer. It could be another hacked 
computer someplace that somebody else 
is controlling from somewhere else." 

Still, few buy the Chinese denials. 
There have simply been too many attacks 
traced to the mainland. Last spring, secret 

State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks and made public by 
Reuters detailed a widespread digital spying operation, Byzantine 
Hades, linked to the People's Liberation Army Chengdu Military Region 
First Technical Reconnaissance Bureau, an electronic espionage unit of 
the Chinese military. According to the cables, Byzantine Hades targeted 



DON'T GET HACKED 



Foreign spies aren't after your PC, 
says Alex S tamos, CTO of security 
firm iSEC Partners, but the code 
from their hacks can be quicldy 
mimicked by cyber criminals. "It's 
like R&D for the broader malware 
market," he says. Keep your 
software updated to stay safe. 

Any employee of a large company 
can become an attack vector for 
spies looking to steal data. "Be 
paranoid about what you click on," 
Stamos says — even emails that 
seem to be from friends. 

Be careful if you store personal 
data on your work computer. If the 
machine becomes infected, your 
employer can erase everything. 

USB drives are classic tools for 
getting malware through a 
firewall. If you don't trust where a 
drive came from, don't plug it into 
your computer. 



not only the U.S. government and indus- 
try, but also high-level European officials. 
The Chinese hackers even managed to 
remotely activate the computer micro- 
phones and Web cameras of French offi- 
cials so they could peek in on everything 
from office gossip to high-level diplomatic 
planning sessions. In the past, surveil- 
lance like that would have required spies 
to know where their targets were staying 
and mic the room — but in the age of cell- 
phones and laptops, spies can listen in on 
foreign officials half a world away. 

Anatomy of an Attack 

IN FEBRUARY 2011, MCAFEE 
released a report detailing a series of 
hacks called Night Dragon. Emanating 
from locations in China and aimed at six 
global oil, gas, and petrochemical compa- 
nies, the hacks resembled the oil company 
attack described by Pollet. The media later 
identified the victims as ExxonMobil, 
Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Marathon Oil, 
ConocoPhillips, and Baker Hughes, all of 
which declined to discuss the report when 
asked by Popular Mechanics. 

Regardless, the meth- 
ods described by both 
Pollet and McAfee are 
straight out of the play- 
book of Chinese-based 
APTs. Instead of trying to 
identify vulnerabilities in 
a company's firewall, 
APTs focus on exploiting 
the one thing that's 
impossible to control — 
the vulnerabilities of 
company employees. 

The hackers Pollet 
investigated found per- 
sonal information about 
the oil company's execu- 
tives on social-networking 
sites such as Facebook 
and Myspace. Then they 
crafted emails aimed at 
enticing the executives to 
click on a poisoned link. 

"The initial attack is 
very subtle," Pollet says. 
"It no longer says, 'I am a 
Nigerian prince and need to hide a bank 
account.' If the hacker can find an execu- 
tive who likes to restore old cars and can 
find the names of some of his friends, he 
will send an email saying 'Hey, I was talk- 



POPULARMECHANICS.COI 



JANUARY 2012 57 




ast year, the Chinese military unveiled the Chengdu J- 20 stealth fighter. Some U.S. intelligence experts 
see the J-20 as the result of a long campaign of technology theft. The Chinese are believed to have 
inspected and reverse-engineered aspects of an American F-117 Nightliawk downed in Serbia in 1999. 
Also, in the early 2000s, Chinese spies are suspected of hacking into a U.S. military research facility in 
China Lake, Calif., and making off with computer files relating to stealth technology. 



ing to our friend Paul, and 
he said you were restoring 
1950s Chevys. I found this 
great website you should 
checkout.'" 

When the victim clicks 
on the link, it takes him 
to a webpage where mal- 
ware loads onto his com- 
puter. It sits there for days 
until it wakes up and 
phones home. 

The ma 1 ware might post a code to a 
Twitter account or post a comment as 
simple as "I'm going skiing on Saturday" 
to a blog. That beacon alerts hackers 
that their malware has taken root and is 
ready for instructions. The hackers can 
then respond with coded directives by 
the same means. 

It wasn't until a year into the hack on 
the oil company that the FBI contacted 
executives and informed them they had 
spotted data traffic leaving their network 
and heading to servers in China known to 
be used to command and control net- 
works, Pollet says. The FBI's Snow says he 
cannot comment on specific cases. But it 
was certainly not the first time the FBI 
stepped in. The current campaign of 
cyber espionage is so widespread, he says, 
that it has forced a "significant cultural 
shift" in the way the FBI handles cyber 
intrusions. Previously, "the No. 1 priority 
was to protect the operational security of 
the investigation and the prosecutive 
equities on the criminal side." While 
those goals are still important, "it's even 
more important that the victims under- 
stand they have been victimized," he says. 

Emergency Response 

AFTER THE FBI ALERT, THE OIL 
company brought in security firms Red 
Tiger and Mandiant to expunge the 
intruders. But expelling an APT isn't as 
simple as it sounds. "They are agile, 
dynamic, and, if you defeat them once, 
they're going to change their tactic," says 




Stolen 

Stealth 

Tech 



Richard Bejtlich, chief security officer for 
Mandiant, who also would not comment 
on the specifics of the oil company attack. 
The attackers, he notes, are usually in it 
for the long haul and are likely to return 
if the company still has intelligence on its 
networks that the hackers or their 
employers consider of value. 

The best approach once an intrusion 
is detected is not to tip your hand until 
you are ready to respond with a serious 
defense. Countermeasures usually involve 
first identifying as many infected computers as possible by looking for 
suspicious software on hard drives and trackingwhich computers have 
been contacting suspicious host servers. The response team then 
attempts to pull as many infected computers as possible off the server 
at once, "by any means necessary," Bejtlich says. "In some cases it's 
literally pulling a cable out of the computer." 

But often it's impossible to know whether all the malware has been 
successfully removed. And even if it has, the attacker will often attempt 
to break in once again, using more sophisticated, perhaps never-before- 
seen code. That's one of the reasons that many in the intelligence com- 
munity are calling for a new security paradigm, one that places an 
emphasis on information sharing and preventive measures. 

The government can go only so far to protect the networks of private 
companies. In the past year, the Department of Defense launched a 
pilot program with the defense industrial base that helps contractors 
improve security and share information about emerging forms of mal- 
ware. Most U.S. companies, however, remain shockingly vulnerable to 
massive security breaches and naive about the extent of the problem. 

Even with cooperation, most security experts believe that keeping a 
capable and determined adversary out of a system is impossible. 

"Perimeter defense is finished," Brenner says. "If you want to talk 
about really confidential stuff in email, you've got to understand that if 
you've got a real sophisticated adversary, they're reading it." 

The FBI's Snow agrees. "We have to have a cultural shift in the 
nation where we understand that there is no secure system, that people 
are going to be hacked," he says. 

As for retaliation? Bejtlich says he often gets questions from high- 
level executives who want to "hack back," even if all that means is retali- 
ating against a Chinese computer with a virus that will disable it. 

"There is sufficient resistance from outside counsel because it would 
violate U.S. law, and in U.S. government agencies, there is no support to 
do that," Bejtlich says. 

When asked if compromised companies might use the knowledge 
that they have been infiltrated to feed spies false data, Bejtlich scoffed. 
"Those deception maneuvers are so far beyond the capability of any pri- 
vate corporation that no one could pull that off," he says. "You couldn't 
protect the planning. The bad guys will see it all and laugh." pm 





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P0PULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 59 



Strangers in a 
strange 

land 



In late 2009, a writer, a 
producer, a director, and 
three scientists sat in a 
Los Angeles conference 
room. They were discussin 
Marvel's Thor — a film base 
on a comic book that was in 
turn inspired by the Norse 
god of thunder — about an 
arrogant warrior who, at the 
start of the film, violates a 
truce by attacking the Frost 
Giants. As the film team 
described their vision of 
the fight, Sean Carroll, a 
theoretical physicist at the 
California Institute of 




Sean Carroll (left) is a physics research associate at CalTech— 
and acts as a consultant on sci-fi flicks. As filmmakers try to 
make their movies more believable, Carroll is just one of many 
scientists dispensing advice. But is Hollywood willing to listen? 



^ 



ISometimes Holly- 
wood gets the science 
right— or at least not 
completely wrong. 
With input from 
experts, we've picked 
sci-fi's most plausible 
big-budget films. 
— Erik Sofge 



Z001: A SPACE ODYSSEY 1368 



Early in the film, a 
character takes a 
routine commer- 
cial flight to a 
space station 
aboard a shuttle sporting 
Pan Am's logo. Swap SpaceX 
for Pan Am, and 2001 
predicts the ambition of the 
private spaceflight industry. 
Even HAL 9000's nuanced 
descent into lethal system 
error rings true. Expert 
opinion: "You can't train AI 
[artificial intelligence] for 
every problem it might have 
to solve," says roboticist 
and author Daniel H. 
Wilson, referring to HAL's 
response to learning that 
secrets are being kept from 





photograph 

by Robert Trachtenberg 



Technology, knew the 
filmmakers had a 
problem. "They wanted 
the Frost Giants to fall off 
the edge of a disc-shaped 
planet," he says. "That 
makes no sense. Where 
does the gravity to pull 
them down come from? 
Enough people know 
how gravity works that 
it would throw them out 
of the movie. You'd g:et a 
lot of giggles." Carroll 
and the other scientists 
argued their point, even 
though, Carroll says, "it 
was clear some people 
thought we were being 
uptight killjoys." 



But producer Kevin Feige sided with 
the scientists, and in the final cut, the 
Frost Giants' planet was spherical. That 
was just one way that Carroll, a clean-cut 
45-year-old who has advised on films such 
as TRON: Legacy and the TV show Bones, 
helped the production. As punishment for 
breaking the truce, Thor is exiled to earth. 
When Feige complained that using the 
term wormhole for Thor's passageway to 
our planet was "too '90s," Carroll suggest- 
ed the scientific name for the phenome- 
non, the Einstein-Rosen bridge. That 
explanation is given by Natalie Portman's 
character, astrophysicist Jane Foster, 
whose motivations Carroll helped shape. 

Scientists have been helping Holly- 
wood since the start of cinema. But as 
science-fiction movies account for more 
revenue— in the '90s, an average of six a 



year were in the top 50 moneymakers; that 
number increased by nearly 50 percent in 
the first decade of the 2000s — filmmakers 
are turning more frequently to experts for 
ideas. "The more you ground your film in 
the real thing, the better it plays," says D.J. 
Gugenheim, VP of production at Inferno 
Entertainment. Scientists are willing to 
help Hollywood because they see a chance 
to expose a broader audience to science 
and humanize their profession. "People 
get images of what science is from mov- 
ies," Carroll says. "I want to help get that 
image right." 

To improve the information flow 
between the science community and 
Hollywood, the National Academy of Sci- 
ences launched the Los Angeles-based 
Science & Entertainment Exchange in 
2008. The organization connects film- 
makers with scientists in biology, chemis- 
try, and other fields. In its first year the 
Exchange's scientists consulted (for free) 
on 70 projects; by September 2011, on 
350. Creators of TV shows such as Fringe 
and The Big Bang Theory, and films like 
Green Lantern and 201 2's Battleship, have 
all talked to scientists with the Exchange. 

But science and entertainment don't 
always mix. "Story creators might think 
scientists are geeks, but there's a sense of 
respect," says Malcolm Maclver, associate 
professor of biomedical engineering at 
Northwestern University and adviser on 
TRON: Legacy. "That respect is not always 
there in the other direction. Scientists feel 
that filmmakers dumb down everything to 
make a buck." Despite holding scientists 
in high esteem, some filmmakers find 
them hard to work with. "Scientists say, 
'No, you can't do that!'" Carroll says. "And 
die moviemaker finds that unhelpful." 

THESE DAYS, AUDIENCES ARE SAWIER 

than ever. And thanks to the Internet, 
there's little they haven't seen — so film- 
makers look to what's happening in 
cutting-edge research. "Scientists are 
more imaginative than we are in Holly- 
wood," says Jeffrey Silver, producer of 
Terminator Salvation and 300. "I used to 
say, that only happens in the movies, but 
now I say, that only happens in science." 
The average moviegoer is also less will- 
ing to suspend disbelief. "If people see a 
movie and sense a disconnect between the 
logic of the movie and the science that 
governs the world of the film," Gugenheim 




The heart of this neo-noir film— lab-grown replicants on the lam in 
Los Angeles— is no more or less plausible a premise today. But the back- 
drop against which they run, fight, and die is a warning of urban and 
environmental blight. The skies over L.A. are blotted and pouring rain, 
the implied result of carbon excess and climate change. Real-life tech 
equivalent: The flying c ars are sci-fi's most realistic airworthy automo- 
biles. These M m are vertical-takeoff and -landing craft— similar 
tc 



a UrbanAero's AirMule drone DrototvDe (above)— that reauire headsets. 



contact with air traffic control, and a oilot's license to ooerate. 




says, "you risk turning off the audience." 
Viewers take their complaints to the Inter- 
net, where they spread faster than a zom- 
bie virus. "Advisers help you construct the 
movie with rules that keep you in 
the realm of what is theoretically plausi- 
ble," Gugenheim says. That's what makes 
films feel real — and prevents bad word-of- 
mouth that could cripple box office. 

SCIENTISTS ARE MORE CONCERNED 

that inaccuracies will harm scientific 
literacy. In The Day After Tomorrow, a 
man-made ice age occurred in just aweek. 
It would actually take at least a decade for 
the real thing to set in. And when scien- 
tists in K-19: The Widowmaker worried 
that a nuclear reactor would explode, it 
spread a dangerous notion: Damaged 
reactors don't explode, they melt. 







classified information are 
exactly the wrench that 
could turn a predictable 
learner into a murderer." 



THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (1971) 



^^J J In this adaptation 

*.-, B of Michael 
| ^ Crichton's novel, 
Bbc* the Pentagon uses 
^^^^ a satellite to 
capture an extraterrestrial 
virus in order to study its 
potential as a biological 
weapon. Instead, the virus 
runs amok, mutating 
rapidly and killing almost 
everyone it encounters. 
The plot is not as far- 
fetched as it sounds. In the 
November 1962 issue of 
Popular Mechanics, 
microbiologist Joshua 
Lederberg warned that "the 
return of such samples to 
earth exposes us to a hazard 
of contamination by foreign 
organisms . . . [including] 
the introduction of a new 
disease which would 
imperil human life." 




MM® 

The Utopian 
layouts and handy 
faster-than-light 
engines of most 
sci-fi spacecraft are 
nowhere to be found in 
Alien's spaceship. The 
Nostromo is a snarl of 
leaking hydraulic lines, 
cramped eating quarters, 
and, for long hauls, 
hibernation pods. Expert 
opinion: Astronaut Tom 
Jones says the blue-collar 
craft "showed a future 
where space has become 
part of the industrial fabric. 
It will be a commonplace 
working environment, some- 
times boring, sometimes 
dangerous, like an offshore 
oil rig— not an exotic lab." 

mam 

In its opening 
sequence, Gattaca 
presents its 
society-warping 
concept: that 
rapid, ubiquitous genetic 
sequencing will reshape the 
world. Whole lives will be 
mapped out from birth, and 
a new classism will emerge, 
based on genetic predisposi- 
tions. Real life hasn't 
caught up to the film's 
neo-fascism, but the 
capability is coming: The 
$10 million Genomics X 
Prize competition hopes to 
yield the first system that 



*»u 






ILLUSTRATIONS BY JOSEPH LANEY 



Most scientists are willing to advise not 
only because it allows them to be gate- 
keepers of their disciplines, but because 
they want to be portrayed accurately 
on-screen. "It's rare that you have a relat- 
able character," says Sheril Kirshenbaum, 
a research associate at the Center for 
International Energy and Environmental 
Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. 
That's why James Cameron created 
Avatar's xenobotanist, Grace. "Scientists 
are usually shown as geeks or losers or 
evil," he says. "I wanted to celebrate the 
mind and the passion of a scientist." 

WORKING IN HOLLYWOOD CAN BE AN 

educational experience for novice advis- 
ers, as Carroll discovered during his first 
consulting gig, on Ron Howard's Angels 
& Demons. In the film, Professor Robert 
Langdon tries to find antimatter stolen 
from CERN's Large Hadron Collider. It's 
a fact that when antimatter and matter 
come into contact, they annihilate each 
other in a violent explosion. What, 
Howard wondered, would it look like if 
that explosion occurred in the sky? 
Carroll suggested a series of rapid booms 
caused by air rushing into the vacuum 
created by the explosion. 

But then the 2007 Writers Guild strike 
derailed both the production and his con- 
sultations. "They were over budget and 
behind schedule, and we didn't talk any- 
more," Carroll says. "That's Hollywood. I 



(1998) 



Though NASA has updated its thinking on foreign-object 
deflection— a 2007 research naner proposed 
anet-killers, 
—the movie was true to the technology of detection 
and interception at the time. Expert opinion: "It's almost 
a lesson," Jones says. "To find a movie that was accurate to 
asteroid physics was a nice surprise." 



t : 








can sequence entire 
genomes for $1000 or less. 




■UlIU , 

1 



This pulpy vision 
of AI's most 
unsettling 
endgame— that 
robots could rebel 
against humanity, a concept 
still called the terminator 
scenario in academic 
circles— was surprisingly 
restrained. The Skynet 
defense network isn't 
malicious and power- 
hungry, just a complex 
program that has run off 
the rails. 



JURASSIC PARK 1993 



captured imaginations were 
the creatures themselves, 
which exhibited behaviors 
that were news to main- 
stream audiences. These 
weren't lumbering reptiles; 
the T. rex hit near-highway 
speeds, with the menace of a 
massive avian. 



HUH 







The premise of this 
Crichton adapta- 
tion—wherein 
dinosaurs are 
cloned using blood 
extracted from preserved 
mosquitoes— was faithful to 
early '90s speculative 
genetics theories. But what 



Much of Contact's 
authenticity goes 
back to astrophysi- 
cist Carl Sagan, 
who wrote the 
original novel. He under- 
stood how radio telescope 
arrays work and why 
scientists would use math to 
translate an alien language. 
Expert opinion: Even the 
climax— Jodie Foster's 
wormhole ride to a distant 
planet— showcases enough 
quantum theory, Jones says, 
to be surprisingly credible, 
"with what's known about 
physics, and what might be 
possible one day." 




I 



MINORITY REPORT 2002) 



The premise— psychics who 
predict crimes— is ridicu- 
lous. The film's gadgets 
are not: Self-driving cars 
are increasingly plausible, 
and the iris-scanning, 
targeted advertising will be 
in stores soon. Real-life tech 
equivalent: the holographic 
operating system. Research- 
ers specializing in human- 
computer interaction still 
show clips of Tom Cruise 
swiping at midair applica- 
tions to illustrate their goals. 
Microsoft's HoloDesk comes 
close— the research demo 
maps hand movements to 
projected images, letting 
users grasp virtual objects. 



10. least accurate 
sci-fi films 

These blockbusters distort research breakthroughs and 
transform fact-based warnings into fairy tales. - e.s. 

ETHE BLACK HOLE (1979) When the protagonists' 
escape pod flies into one of the universe's most 
destructive phenomena, it isn't ripped apart, atom 
by shrieking atom. Instead, passengers have 
psychedelic visions and emerge safe and sound. 



ARMAGEDDO (1998) NASA sends wildcatters to land on an earth-killing 
asteroid and blow it in half with a nuke— never mind that even a 
rock the size of Texas doesn't have the gravity to keep the rovers on 
its surface. Ridiculous detail: The rovers are equipped with mounted 
machine guns, which one character uses to open fire on everything in sight. 



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THE MATRIX (1999) Neo wakes to find that the 
machines are using humans' body heat for 
power— but in reality, burning the calories pumped 
into people would yield more energy. 

VANILLA SKY (2001) The protagonist has been in a 
150-year cryonic slumber while his neurons 
navigate a virtual world. But he went under in 
2001, when real-life cryonics involved being decapi- 
tated and dunked in a vat of liquid nitrogen. 

THE CORE (2003) A team drills to the center of the 
earth in a vessel made of unobtanium to restart the 
core. Ridiculous detail: The vessel is punctured by a 
j Bii3 diamond and gets dangerously hot. In reality, it 
2 would instantly fill with magma, unobtanium be damned. 



THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (2004) The plausible 
theory that changing temperatures could disrupt 
ocean currents, triggering an ice age, is rendered 
-*^» absurd when physics-defying waves of cold air 
descend from the stratosphere to freeze people solid. 






I AM LEGEND (2007) A plague transforms humans 
into vampires; an immune virologist uses his blood 
to make a vaccine. But in real life, he'd have to be 
infected to create the antibodies for a cure. 



INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL 
S K 1 1 ( 2 8 ) Stuck in the blast radius of a nuclear 
test, Indy hides in a lead-lined fridge. He survives, 
and decades of high-energy physics research— which 
show that the lead would melt— are vaporized. 

■ 2012 (2009) The sun barrages earth with mutated 
neutrinos, which superheat the core and set off a 
seismic apocalypse. Ridiculous detail: Glacial 
melting triggers a global flood. But there isn't enough 
water on earth to fuel such a biblical disaster. 



i 



ANGELS & DEMONS (2009) A gram of stolen 
antimatter is smuggled into Vatican City. The 
idea that highly unstable antimatter could be 
transported with ease is pure scientific blasphemy. 



POPULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 63 



was pleasantly surprised by the intellec- 
tual curiosity of those involved, but disil- 
lusioned that you can't always do it right." 
Angels & Demons eventually hit theaters in 
2009. (Carroll's contribution, he says, 
looked "more or less" as he advised.) 

Often filmmakers ignore a scientist's 
advice. When paleontologist Robert T. 
Bakker worked on Jurassic Park, he found 
the dinosaur artists to be "better animal 
morphologists than most tenured profes- 
sors." But when he sent the film team dia- 
grams of the T. rex's banana-shaped 
crowns, "the powers that be didn't like the 
real tooth shape," he says. "The CGI rex 
and the robot had their fangs sharpened." 

Filmmakers defend their creative 
license; their first responsibility, they say, 
is to entertain. For 2012, director Roland 
Emmerich wanted an impossible global 
flood. "There isn't enough water on earth 
for that," he admits, "so you have to fig- 
ure out something." Emmerich asked a 
geologist to work from the 1950s theory 
of earth-crust displacement. "He said, 
'This could never happen.' And we said, 
'Well, if it did happen, how would it 
work?' " Silver often talks to advisers, but 
even he says that "if [a story] doesn't 
break a fundamental law of physics, then 
it doesn't matter how far you stretch it." 

Ultimately, advisers understand they're 
not creating award-winning research. 
"You have to accept that the goal is to tell a 
story first," says Kevin Hand, a planetary 
scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Labora- 
tory. Science & Entertainment Exchange 
director Marty Perreault agrees: "We're 
not the science police." They also realize 
that these films could get young viewers 
interested in science. "I can write a book 
where I explain real physics and reach 
several thousand people," Carroll says, "or 
I can help create Natalie Portman's 
character in a movie that will reach 
10 million people. And some will be young 
girls who see that Natalie Portman's play- 
ing a scientist." 

Now that Carroll's done with Thar, 
he's moved on to Doctor Strange, about a 
surgeon who becomes earth's Sorcerer 
Supreme. Carroll's job is to apply limits 
to Strange's powers. "You need con- 
straints to provide tension," he says. A 
world where anything can happen makes 
for a very boring movie. It's when science 
imposes boundaries on what a superhero 
can do that the real drama begins. PM 



64 JANUARY 2012 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



. 




BY BEN STEWART 

PHOTOGRAPH BY DWIGHT ESCHLIMA 




OUTSIDE THE BOUNDS OF TRADITIONAL AUTO SEGMENTS LIE SPIRITED 
MACHINES THAT SIP FUEL, HAUL GEAR, AND DON'T LOOK LIKE RENTAL CARS. 
WE PUSHED FIVE OF THESE FUNKY RIDES TO THEIR LIMITS 
ON BOTH ROAD AND TRACK. 




NISSAN JUKE 



MINI COOPER 



WHYDRIVEDU LL? 

Automakers are realizing that even though millions buy 
mainstream cars like the Toyota Corolla and Chevy Malibu, 
there's a burgeoning market tor spicier alternatives. But 
unlike the well-defined segments such as midsize sedans 
where all the players are closely matched in size, basic 
shape, and even engine power, the "not sedans" follow a 
much looser formula. And so we have a growing group of 
cars that defy categorization. The Nissan Juke resembles a 
mini SUV, while the new Hyundai Veloster has a coupe-like 
profile but three doors. We matched those two with three 




On Weenie Wednesday at Larry's Dawg House in 
~hio, 1800 hot dogs will meet their end. Our 
left-of-center cars line up at the drive-thru. 



HYUNDAI VELOSTER 



66 JANUARY 2012 I POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



other cars from outside the mainstream — the Mini Cooper, the Scion tC, and the newly restyied 
VW Beetle. The only links among the five are a base price around 20 grand, quirky styling, over 
30 highway mpg, and the promise that when the road curves, they won't simply be ready, they'll 
be willing. We took these cars on a three-day romp from Detroit to the curvy back roads of 
southeast Ohio, and we think they may represent an automotive sweet spot These rides are 
economical yet spunky — eliciting grins as if they were high-dollar sports cars. Since they're all 
so varied, we didn't rank them from best to worst. Instead, we've included the usual tesi 
measurements and subjective opinions, then highlighted the strengths of these five funsters. 



TO ILLUSTRATE EACH CAR'S STRENGTHS. WE'VE INCLUDED THIS 10-POINT SCALE AND HIGHLIGHTED THE ICONS TO DEPICT THE CAR'S BEST CHARACTERISTICS, 

©oooo©©© 



CARGO 

HAULING 



FUEL 
ECONOMY 



ACCELERATION 



COMFORT 



TRANSMISSION 



EXTERIOR 

STYLING 



REAR 
SEAT 



INTERIOR 
CRAFTSMANSHIP 



VALUE 




NISSANJUKE 

An outlier among oddballs. It's the only one available with all-wheel drive. 



IN THIS BUNCH of irreverent cars, the Juke is like 
Lady Gaga — a little crazier-looking than anything 
else, but packing serious talent too. Based on the tiny 
Nissan Cube platform, the Juke feels tauter than 
most crossovers and handles nimbly, like it was built 
expressly for tight urban confines. It's fun to hustle, 
mostly because of the incredibly linear and potent 
turbocharged engine mated to the slick six-speed 
manual transmission. It sprinted to 60 mph in just 7.8 
seconds. The Juke's tall center of gravity, however, and 
relatively soft suspension meant that when the road 



turned curvy, it couldn't keep up with the sportier cars. 
Still, the Juke absorbed road jostles and jolts better 
than anything else. Inside, the proximity of the 
controls to the driver makes the cockpit feel intimate 
and purposeful. And there's a measure of practicality 
with four real doors and a waist-high, flat load floor 
once the rear seats are down. Although this raised 
platform doesn't accommodate taller items that fit in 
the Scion and Hyundai, you do get a handy rubberized 
under-floor storage bin for stashingyour cordless drill, 
muddy work boots, or a couple of jugs of moonshine. 



^ 



© 






SCION TC 

Has the right ingredients, but was cooked by an indifferent chef. 

• 

COMPARED WITH THESE other machines, the Scion tC is a brutish mallet of a muscle car. You sit low, 
surrounded by high doorsills, and peer over a tall dash — just like you would in a '69 Mustang Boss. Unfortunate- 
ly, the rest of the interior seems equally dated. "Is that an aftermarket radio?" asked one tester. Nope, it just 
looks like one from the '80s. As for the engine, there's a 2.5-liter four pulled from a Toyota Camry, but in this 
bunch, it's like a torque-rich V-8. In the hilly countryside, the Scion could effortlessly reel in the other cars with 
its meaty powerband. And the raspy exhaust is a wonderfully encouraging soundtrack. The transmission is 
more crude than sporty, though, with longish, truck-like throws. The steeringwheel has a nice fat rim, but on 
challenging curves, the tC couldn't hang with the Mini or the Veloster, and the tires run out of grip too soon. On 
the highway, the tC soaked up road blemishes that thumped our rumps in other cars. In terms of practicality, 
the tC clobbers the competition with the roomiest back seat. When you fold down that seat and use the tC as a 
college kid would — movingjunk around — it's as close as one can get in this group to a pickup. 




o 



© 



MINI COOPER 

Tiny, but delivers oversize driving thrills. 

• 

THE MINI MAKES more smiles than any other car 
here. And it doesn't do it with horsepower. Under the 
hood, there's just a wee little 121-hp 1.6-liter four- 
cylinder engine, making the Mini the pokiest when 
the light turns green. But thanks to its Lilliputian 
dimensions and 2561-pound weight, the Cooper feels 
quicker than its spec sheet would suggest. When the 
road bends, this solid-feeling tyke is exceptionally 
alert and communicative. It zings where the other 
cars simply turn, delivering a massive rush of 
dopamine to your brain box. It's that fun. The Mini's 



interior will make you smile, too. From the central 
speedometer the size of Flavor Flav's clock to the 
vintage appearance of the switchgear, the design is 
lighthearted and inspired. On the highway, the Mini's 
short wheelbase did not translate into a rougher ride. 
In fact, no matter the terrain, the Mini was firm yet 
comfy. So what's this athlete's Achilles' heel? The 
back seat fits only toddlers, and there's cargo room for 
just one carry-on-size suitcase. It's best to consider 
the Cooper a two-seater. If cargo space is a must, 
there are larger Minis, but naturally, they cost more. 



ILLUSTRATIONS BY J I M I CRAYON 



P0PULARMECHANICS.COM I JANUARY 2012 69 





Suspension (front/rear) 



Wheelbase (in.) 

Length (in.) 

Width On.) 

Track (front/rear) 

Axle ratio 

Brakes (front/rear) 



Curb weight Ob) 

Power to weight flb/hp) 

Tires (front/rear) 

Acceleration (sec) 

0-30 mph 

0-60 mph 

0-100 mph 

40-70 mph 

Quarter-mile (sec/mph) 

Braking (ft) 

30-0 mph 

60-0 mph 

Sound levels (dBA) 

Idle 

Full throttle 

60 mph 

Lane change (mph) 

Skidpad (g's) 

EPA fuel economy 

(city/hwy) 

PM fuel economy 

(mixed/hwy) 




HYUNDAI 
Veloster 

$17,300 

$21,395 ^^^^^^ 
138 hp/123 Ib-ft 
1.6-liter I-4/6M 

Strut, coil springs/ 
torsion beam, coil springs 

104.3 

166.1 

70.5 

61.5/62.0 

4.27:1 

11.0-in. disc/ 

10.3-in. disc, ABS, ESC 

2764 

20.03 ^^^^^ 
215/45HR-17 

3.11 
9.80 
28.39 
7.74 

17.04 ©81.92 



MINI 
Cooper 

$20,100 
$24,600 

121 hp/114 Ib-ft 
1.6-liter I-4/6M 
Strut, coil springs/ 
multilink, coil springs 



57.4/57.8 

4.35:1 

11.0-in. disc/ 

10.2-in. disc, ABS, ESC 

2561 

21.17 ^^^^ 

195/55R-16 

3.56 

10.12 

30.10 

8.03 

17.32 @ 80.87 




31.70/36.58 



NISSAN 
Juke 

$21,010 

$22,490 ^^^^^ 
188 hp/177 Ib-ft 
1.6-liter turbo I-4/6M 

Strut, coil springs/ 
torsion beam, coil springs 

99.6 

162.4 

69.5 

60.0/60.0 

4.21:1 

11.7-in. disc/ 

11.5-in. disc, ABS, ESC 

2935 

15.61 ^^^^^^^ 

215/55R-17 

2.77 

7.88 

20.26 

5.71 

15.68 @ 88.89 

30.01 
121.11 

47.3 
80.6 
73.9 
57.2 
0.82 ^^^^^^^ 

24/31 

27.75/32.41 



SCION 

tc 

$18,995 

$18,995 ^^^^ 
180 hp/173 Ib-ft 
2.5-liter I-4/6M 

Strut, coil springs/ 
multilink, coil springs 

106.3 

174.0 ^^^^^ 

70.7 

60.6/61.4 

4.06:1 

11.7-in. disc/ 

11.0-in. disc, ABS, ESC 

3131 
17.39 

225/46R-18 

2.79 

8.11 

21.61 

6.23 

15.88 ©> 87.61 

29.5 
120.84 

50.1 

81.7 

75.4 ^^^^^ 

60.02 

0.80 

23/31 

26.37/31.26 



vw 

Beetle 



$19,765 

$25,965 ^^^^ 
170 hp/177 Ib-ft 
2.5-liter I-5/6A 

Strut, coil springs/ 
torsion beam, coil springs 

99.9 

168.4 ^^^^^^ 

71.2 

62.2/60.9 

3.50:1 

11.3-in. disc/ 

10.7-in. disc, ABS, ESC 

3138 

18.46 ^^^^^ 

235/45R-17 

3.28 

9.72 

27.42 

7.66 

16.97 ©82.11 

30.36 
122.56 

44.6 

79.1 

71.1 

58.78 

0.82 ^^^^^ 

20/29 

25.03/29.61 




o 



o 



VW BEETLE 

Less cute than before, but still lacks an edge. 

• 

THERE IS NO other shape in all of automobiledom, except maybe the Porsche 911, that is more recognizable 
than the VW Beetle. And the latest machismo-infused iteration is no exception — everyone grins as you go by. 
Although the newest Beetle may look tougher than the pastel one with the flower vase in your neighbor's garage, 
it was the softest and least edgy of our test group. The mood is more Valium than Viagra. Following our convoy 
through the hillocks of Ohio, the Bug wasn't happy being pushed. Even though the Beetle is only a few pounds 
heavier than the Scion, you can feel the avoirdupois. Back off a few notches, though, and it's a capable partner 
with wonderful steering. It flows through corners rather than aggressively changing direction. With its velvety- 
smooth ride and hushed cabin, the vee-dub excels at long highway journeys. The interior decor is upscale and 
very well-crafted — "nearly Audi level," according to one tester. The Beetle's 2.5-liter inline five wasn't as snappy 
as the powertrains of the Juke or the Scion, but it felt grunty off idle. And when you dig your spurs into the Bug, 
that engine produces a somewhat exotic wail. Packing stuff into the latest Beetle is now much easier due to an 
additional 3.4 cubic feet of luggage space. In a caravan of sport compacts, the VW is like a luxury grand-tourer. 




o 

©© 



HYUNDAI VELOSTER 

Nails the styling and handling, but is about 30 ho short. 



HYUNDAI KNOWS HOW to make compelling family 
cars, competent sportsters, and plush luxury whips, 
but it turns out it knows how to design out-of-the- 
ordinary cars as well. Slide behind the wheel and 
you're snuggled into what looks like the cockpit of a 
futuristic spaceship. The materials are modern, with a 
7-inch screen and bigvents in the middle of a dash that 
resembles Optimus Prime's face. The Veloster feels 
feathery-light as it snakes through corners, and the 
steering is delicate and quick. There's crispness to its 
moves, but at the same time, it seems just a little tinny. 
Sharp bumps boom through the car's structure, and 



you definitely feel them. And the Hyundai was fairly 
poky — we nicknamed it Captain Slow. The six-speed 
manual was one of the better transmissions here, but 
to maintain speed on a long grade, prepare to 
downshift every time and keep the gas floored. The 
Veloster's right-side-only rear door was a point of 
controversy. Some thought it was appropriately edgy; 
others would have liked a fourth door. Inside, there's 
a roomy back seat and a deep cargo hold. Fold the 
seats flat and the Veloster is a massively useful mini 
wagon. But most pleasing is that, at just over S21,000 
with a nav system, the Veloster is a smoking deal. 



STEEL 



& 





mi mi iii 






Y EARLY APRIL, THERE WAS SO MUCH SNOW IN ALPINE, WYO., THAT IT WAS 
hard to find Dan Adams's snowmobiling school, the Next Level Riding Clinics. I was looking for a big black 
trailer on a small side road in a boom-and-bust town on the edge of the Tetons, the 12,000-foot mountain 
range that sits on the state's border with Idaho. Forty minutes away, in the town of Jackson, you can find 
tofu burritos, a world-famous ski resort, Dick Cheney, and Sandra Bullock, plus tons of backcountry skiers 
who hike up untamed ridges on Teton Pass, then lay steep tracks back to their Subarus. Here, in Alpine, 
you see black trailers half-buried in the drifts, convenience stores, and snowmobiles. 

The correct trailer was parked next to an '07 Dodge Ram Diesel with a custom black-and-white 
vinyl wrap, near a cinder-block garage that used to house the Alpine fire department. Adams was inside, 

wearing latex gloves and topping off the 
l l l il ll oil on nine Polaris 800 Pro-RMK snow 

machines lined up with military preci- 
sion. He was maybe 5 foot 8, and about 
the same dimension through the chest, 
with a James Cagney jaw you could use 
for breaking bricks. The walls were plas- 
tered with logos from his sponsors, dom- 
inated by a huge crimson banner that 
read polaris: conquer the terrain. 

Adams grew up in Jackson, where 
he led the mountain version of an 
ail-American boyhood: riding a snow 
machine to the bus stop and growing 
into a pro snowboarder. Today, sledding 
wannabes come to him because he's 
starred in nearly a dozen extreme-snow- 
mobiling movies (he helped invent the 
genre), because he's only the ninth guy 
ever to do a backflip on a snowmobile 





P0PULARMECHANICS.COM I JANUARY 2012 71 




BOLT A ROCKET TO 
A FUEL TANK AND 
YOU'VE BASICALLY 
GOT AN 800-CC 
MOUNTAIN 
SNOWMOBILE. 
SOME ALPINE 
PURISTS HATE THEM, 
BUT THE SLEDS ARE 
POWERING A NEW 
BREED OF SNOW 
JUNKIES— AND A DIY 
TAKE ON HELISKIING. 



by JERRY BEILINSON 

PHOTOGRAPHS BY DAVID STUBBS 





^SJ' 





Dan Adams, a pro rider who has appeared in multiple Slednecks extreme-snowmobiling 
films, says he belongs to "the part of the snowmobiling industry known for dropping cliffs." 
He teaches mountain riding and avalanche safety in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest 



72 JANUARY 2012 I POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



("once was enough"), and because he's 
an all-around badass who regularly 
launches off monster cliffs and rips huge 
rooster tails in bottomless powder. 

That kind of riding only became possi- 
ble starting in the mid-1990s when sleds 
such as the Ski-Doo Summit appeared, 
designed to access steep terrain and deep 
snow. Adams's current snowmobiles 
are 431-pound featherweights on treads 
sized long — 155 inches — for flotation, 
with 800-cc two-stroke engines. 

Such adrenaline machines have 
muscled their way into the mountain 
scene throughout the American Rock- 
ies and up into British Columbia. It 
hasn't been a smooth transition — some 
backcountry skiers who once had the 
peaks to themselves have reacted with 
outrage. I can relate. Like many other 
skiers, hikers, and climbers who grew 
up in the age of sweat, I'm suspicious of 
anything that makes the mountains too 
accessible — if you can drive there, it's 
not wilderness, right? 

Not all skiers resent the rise of the 
machines. A subculture of snow junkies 
has begun using snowmobiles to ferry 
each other uphill in a DIY version of heli- 
copter skiing. In fact, I planned to get 
me some later in the week. I might feel 
guilty about it, but it comes down to core 
values — ultimately, I decided, there's 



nothing more impor- 
tant than powder 
skiing. I just needed 
to work on my sled- 
ding skills first. 

Class started 
with something like 
a smoky doughnut 
on a Jet Ski. We were 
a dozen trail miles 
from Adams's shop, 
deep in Bridger- 
Teton National Forest. Wade Gaughran 
and his son and nephew, who were fin- 
ishing up a multiday clinic with Adams, 
were thriving, but I had already racked 
up a grim record: one collision with a 
tree (Adams had dug me out stonily), the 
makings of a purplish scar on my right 
shin, and two-thirds of a competent pow- 
der turn. "This is a boot camp on snow 
and I workyour tail off," Adams had said. 
He was taking it easy on me, but my fore- 
arms were fried, and an ache was grow- 
ing between my shoulder blades. 

Mountain snowmobiling looks hard, 
and actually, it is. To turn in deep snow 
and to ride across hills you need to get 
the machine tipped up on edge, which 
takes timing and commitment. Adams 
told us to countersteer, turning the skis 
to the right briefly to weight the left side 
of the machine, then hop onto the left 
side of the sled, right foot on the run- 
ning board, left leg way out in the snow, 
and pull the machine over on edge while 
aye gave it a brrump brrump brrump 
GRWAAA of throttle. Basically, you plant 



I ! 

I MIGHT STOP CAR RACING. 

SNOWMOBILING HAS 



GRABBED M 

LIKE NOTHING ELSE 
I HAVE EVER DONE. 



GUNSHOP OWNER WADE GAUGHRAN 

your foot and the sled pivots around it. 

The clutch engages at approximately 
4000 rpm, and the idea is to feather the 
throttle to keep the engine spinning 
slightly above that rate. "Go as slow as 
possible, but just fast enough," Adams 
said. Unfortunately, I wasted my youth 
by totally ignoring dirt bikes and go- 
karts, and as a result I have the engine 
instincts of a boiled ham. 

But Wade! Wade Gaughran has raced 
everything from Formula Fords to the 
200-mph Saleen S7R supercar, and he 
scored a second-in-class at the 24 Hours 
of Daytona — he's a man who knows 
how to work an engine. I watched him 
porpoise turns through deep snow and 
traverse hills that would have sent me 
tumbling. Then he totally blew my mind 
by pounding straight up the slope, pop- 
ping the skis into the air at the crest, 
and muscling the machine around to 
ride out of it. It was unreal. "I might 
stop car racing," Gaughran emailed me 
later. "Snowmobiling has grabbed me 
like nothing else I have ever done." 



' 







Avalanche transceivers, such 
as the Ortovox 3+ (above, left), 
emit a steady signal at 457 
kHz. If a skier or snowmobiler 
is buried in an avalanche, 
his companions switch 
their units from transmit to 
receive, and track the signal 
to commence a search. The 
most capable new transceivers 
can distinguish among several 
distinct signals to aid in the 
case of multiple burials and calculate the approximate 
distance to each victim. Additional avalanche gear 
includes a shovel and a probe. 



Jackson, Wyo., 

resident David 

Gonzales earns 

his turns at 8700 

feet on Beard 

Mountain, a 

popular spot 

for backcountry 

skiing. His take on 

sled-skiers, who 

use snowmobiles 

on the ascent: 

"They should get 

off their ass and 




74 JANUARY 2012 I POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



MOUNTAIN SLEDS 



Sno 

meant to operate 
in deep snow and 
to climb steep 
terrain appeared 
in the 1990s, and 
have advanced 
rapidly. They now 
account for per- 
haps 20 percent of 
the approximately 
90,000 snow 
machines sold in 
North America 
each winter. 
Mountain sleds, 
like the Polaris 
800Pro-RMK 
shown here, have 
long tracks for 
flotation, narrow 
builds for side-to- 
side agility, and 
a high power-to- 
weight ratio— a 
typical machine is 
about 450 pounds 
and is driven by a 
150-hp engine. 
Riders can 
boost power 
with aftermarket 
turbochargers. 




TWO-STROKE ENGINE 



The 800-cc two-stroke 
engine dominates the 
high-performance 
mountain-sled world 
because of its light 
weight, though four- 
strokes with lower 
emissions have started 
making inroads in 



other sled categories. 
Sophisticated fuel 
injection can help 
adjust for altitude: 
Engines can lose one- 
third of their power 
above 7000 feet. 



Riders rarely 
sit on mountain 
snowmobiles, so 
the handlebars 
are positioned 
high. The chassis 
is narrow, with 
the rider's weight 
shifted forward to 
maximize agility. 



Mountain-sled tracks 
are long-between 144 
inches and 163 inches 
for most models, 155 
inches for this RMK. 
The track on a typical 
flatland machine 
is 121 inches. (The 
length refers to the 
circumference of 



the track— one full 
revolution.) The 
paddles on the tread 
have a deep profile. 
They're 2.4 inches 
on this model, which 
is more than an inch 
longer than paddles 
meant for trail use. 




MY PREVIOUS OVERNIGHT 
ski tours all started with an uphill 
slog from the truck, hauling beer 
and ramen noodles. But here I was, 
skimming across the snow, being 
towed with five others by a good 
Samaritan snowmobiler up a roll- 
ing trail on the Idaho side of the 
range. Once he dropped us off, we still 
had a steep hike to an overnight yurt (a 
heated, cabin-size tent on a platform) 
owned by Diane Verna and her husband, 
who run Rendezvous Backcountry Tours, 
an adventure company. I had stayed at 
this shelter 15 years earlier, when the 
only way to reach it was to break trail. 
Since then, it has been largely taken over 
by snowmobilers and sled-skiers. "At 



Don Watkins 
loads his 2002 
Polaris 800 RMK 
at the foot of 
Phillips Canyon 
in Wyoming after 
a morning of sled- 
skiing. "I moved 
to Jackson five 
years ago, and 
started getting to 
the backcountry 
gradually," 
he says. 



least 50 to 75 percent of our customers 
use the machines to get their stuff to the 
yurt now," Diane told me, a bit sadly, as 
we prepared our gear. 

We attached nylon climbing skins to 
our ski bases — the texture on the skins 
is angled to let the ski slide forward, but 
not backward, even on a steep slope. 
(Old-time explorers used seal pelts.) 
Then I clicked into my Dynafit touring 
bindings, which in their way were just 
as advanced as a Ski-Doo. They weigh 
barely more than 2 pounds a pair, a frac- 
tion as much as conventional ski bind- 
ings. For skiing uphill, the boot heel 
swings free, as in a cross-country setup; 
for the descent, you lock the heel down. 

We climbed past lodgepole pine 



and Doug fir, dumped the Pabst Blue 
Ribbon at the yurt, and continued up 
onto Beard Mountain. We were skirting 
the Jedediah Smith Wilderness, where 
motorized transport was banned in 1984, 
helping set the stage for conflict. By the 
late 1990s, arguments were flaring over 
where snowmobilers were allowed to 
ride, and tires got slashed in the parking 
lot. Similar altercations near Ketchum, 
Idaho, led to backcountry shelters being 
set ablaze, apparently by snowmobilers, 
in 2000. Frequent clashes broke out on 
Teton Pass. Tensions have eased, thanks 
in part to public meetings and the estab- 
lishment of snowmobile-free zones in 
some classic ski spots. Still, as one local 
snowmobiler who's been subjected to 
frankly impolite gestures told me, "It's a 
love-hate relationship. Mainly hate." 

Hurt feelings aren't the biggest risk 
faced by snowmobilers, though. Every 
day I spent in the Tetons, I relied on 
my companions to check avalanche 
conditions and choose safe terrain. But 
not everyone is as careful. In the U.S., 
avalanche statistics are maintained by 
the Colorado Avalanche Information 
Center. The data show that snowmobil- 
ing deaths climbed sharply in the mid- 












f 



1990s, with the advent of mountain 
sleds. Only 17 snowmobilers died in 
avalanches between 1950 and 1990. The 
total more than doubled in the next five 
years, and it reached 229 this past June. 
It now exceeds the figure for backcoun- 
try skiers, who have been exploring ava- 
lanche terrain much longer. 

Snowmobilers tend to get in trouble 
for three reasons. The machines are 
heavy, which stresses the snowpack. Sta- 
bility varies from one slope to another, 
depending on factors such as wind- 
loading and exposure to the sun — and 
sleds can move from safety to danger at 
highway speeds. Finally, many riders lack 
avalanche training, a problem Adams 
and some other pros are trying to tackle. 
"We keep getting killed because we are 
so damned focused on horsepower that 
we don't pay attention," Adams told me. 
"We have to stop being morons." 

IT WAS TWO DAYS PAST 
the close of the Jackson Hole 
ski resort, but the weather was 
pounding hard on the way to a 



! I I I 



Joel Tate ripping fresh snow two days after nearby Jackson 
Hole Mountain Resort closed for the season, on April 3, 
2011. Tate, a chef in Jackson, Wyo., says, "The Canadians are 
definitely more open to sled-skiing, but it's starting to even 
out around here." He rides a 2009 Ski-Doo Summit 800. 



record 700-inch-plus snow year in the 
mountains. In the gas station at the foot 
of Teton Pass, the dyed-blond, hard- 
boiled woman ruling the register was talk- 
ing down a young guy, maybe in his early 
20s, who had just stalled and slid back- 
ward down the pass. He was crying literal 
tears at the idea of trying again in the sil- 
ver, rear-wheel-drive coupe I saw out 
front. While she gave him detour direc- 
tions, I grabbed my coffee and joined 
local snowboarder Don Watkins, who was 
driving a borrowed F-250 with his Polaris 
and snowboard in the bed. In front of us 
somewhere in the storm was his buddy's 
truck, loaded with a Ski-Doo and ski gear. 
We torqued steadily up through the slip- 
pery mess to reach the base of Phillips 
Canyon, a local hotspot for sled-skiing. 

At a dirt turnout, we loaded the ski 
gear onto the snowmobiles and rode 



"Canadian style." Watkins stood on the 
right running board to control the throt- 
tle while I balanced on the left, expertly 
not touching anything and following 
directions. ("Lean out the left. Okay, 
stand up. Lean left again — not that 
much!") I peered over into a wide, deep 
well in the snow, onto the green roof 
of one of those sign-in boards posted 
at National Forest trailheads. We sped 
through meadows, then slowed to make 
turns through the trees, branches slap- 
ping my helmet from time to time while 
my legs pumped to absorb the changing 
terrain. It was fun. 

After 30 minutes, we reached the 
treeless floor of a cirque at 9200 feet. We 
were miles into the backcountry — at a 
location it would have taken all morn- 
ing to reach on skis. Glades and cliffs 
rose 1000 feet or so on three sides — put 
a lift system in here and you'd have Vail. 
We gunned the machines to the top 
of the ridge and unloaded the gear. Wat- 
kins and his friend Joel Tate rode both 
snowmobiles back the way we'd come, 
and returned 10 minutes later, having 
left one of the machines at the bottom. 
For some reason an old rope was dan- 
gling from a branch over the slope, like 
it was a swimming hole. I 
watched as Watkins dove 
in on his snowboard, 
trailing fingers through 
snow. When I followed, 
the snow was heavy, and 
I entered that dreamy 
winter world where grav- 
ity works at half-speed. The top layer 
sloughed off and flowed around me, 
piling up against my calf muscles when 
I turned to let it pass. Tate — a man of 
enormously wide skis with a cowboy 
mustache and plugs in his earlobes — 
blasted by me in an explosion of pow- 
der, like some groovy 1970s ski poster. 
I surfed up over a crest in the terrain, 
skimming the surface of the snow. And 
when I caught up, Tate was already at 
the lower snowmobile, getting ready to 
ferry us back to the top. 

We skied several runs — faster than 
I could have done a single lap if I 
were climbing for my turns. We saw 
no other snowmobilers and we saw no 
other skiers. Each time we reached the 
bottom, the tracks up high had filled 
in. And so we'd start up the engines, 
and do it again. pm 



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ILLUSTRATIONS BY GRANT COGHILL 



78 JANUARY 2012 I P0PULARMECHANICS.COM 



0^ 



Tech GOING OFFLINE 



advertising is the engine that drives the 
Internet's largest sites, including Google 
and Facebook, and it depends on your 
personal— and allegedly private— data 
for fuel. "The government, companies, 
and marketers all want us to share as 
much information as possible because 
that's what's good for them," says 
Rebecca Jeschke of the Electronic 
Frontier Foundation, "and it's time to 
think of what's good for us." 

While most Internet users seem fine 
with privacy tradeoffs, the lack of con- 
trol will lead some to consider the 
nuclear option: total Internet evacua- 
tion. But taking yourself offline isn't as 
simple as logging out— it requires a little 
bit of work. Here's how. 

Popular Sites 

When a website is new, the last 
thing its creators are thinking about is 
how to help users leave. Thankfully, 
many of the Internet's largest identity 
properties— Facebook, Google, Amazon, 
and Microsoft— are fairly mature and 
have evolved enough to offer well- 
defined— if well-hidden— escape plans. 

If you've ever used Gmail, Google 
Docs, Google+, or Picasa, to name a 
few, then you have a Google account. 
Google accounts can contain an 
astounding amount of personal data- 
check google.com/dashboard to see 
exactly how much— but removing it is a 
straightforward process. Before you hit 
the switch, be sure to back up any infor- 
mation you want to keep— a Google 
account can be recovered for only a few 
months after its deletion. Google doesn't 
have a software tool for exporting data 
from its services, but most services have 
their own, typically found under the set- 
tings menu on the upper-right-hand side 
of the screen. As with other webmail 
services, the easiest way to back up 
your Live or Hotmail messages is to add 
your account to a mail app such as Out- 
look or Apple's Mail before deletion— 
this will have the added benefit of 
backing up your contacts. 

Once you've copied your important 
data offline, navigate to your Google 



THE KILL SWITCH 



A WEB APP TO END ALL WEB APPS 



Signing up for social media sites is, by design, almost 
entirely frictionless. Three or four clicks will get you in 
the door, but finding your way out takes significantly 
more time and effort. The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine 
(tagline: Meet Your Real Neighbors Again) is a one-shot 
tool for deleting your profiles from some of the largest 
social sites on the Web, including Twitter, Myspace, 
Linkedln, and Facebook. 

The tool was released last year by the New Media 
Lab in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and still lives up to 
its name— with one exception. Facebook has taken 
action to disable the site's "suicide" script, and even sent 
the creators a stern cease-and-desist letter, demanding 
that Facebook be exempted from its deletion tools. 

Among the concerns included in Facebook's legal 
letter? "[T]he protection of users' privacy." 




account dashboard (google.com/accounts). Next to My Products, click Edit. Then 
select Close Account and Delete All Services and Info Associated With It. You'll be 
presented with a list of Google services that you've used in the past. (In my case, this 
included three that I didn't remember signing up for.) Check the box next to each, 
along with the two are-you-really-sure boxes at the bottom, and select Delete Google 
Account. The account will be instantly wiped from the public Internet, but the com- 
pany warns on its website that "residual . . . accounts may take up to 60 days to be 
deleted from our active servers and may remain in our backup systems," but not be 
accessible in any way, "for an additional period of time." 

Until 2008, there was no obvious way to permanently delete your information 
from Facebook. Instead, there was a Deactivate option only, which removed your 
profile from public view but left it on Facebook's servers indefinitely. Thousands 
complained, so Facebook built a tool for permanently and instantly deleting user 
data— then promptly hid it away in the site's Help section. To access it, log in to 
Facebook, navigate to facebook.com/help, and type "delete my account" in the 
search box. The top result will link you to the deletion page. Click Submit and 
confirm your choice, and you're done. While Facebook doesn't offer much help for 
backing up your data— a particular concern if you use Facebook to hold your photo 
collection— there are a number of free Facebook apps designed to archive your 
albums, such as Facebook Exporter for iPhoto and FBPhotoExport. 

To pull yourself free from Microsoft's services, go to account.live.com and scroll to 
the bottom of the page. Under the Other Options header, click Close Account. On the 
following page, reenter your account password and press Yes. Unfortunately, there is 
no account-wide export option. 

Closing an Amazon account is a more roundabout process. Click Help in the 
upper-right-hand corner of any page on amazon.com and search "closing your 
account." On the resulting page, pick Contact Us, then click on Something Else. 
Below that, select Account Settings from the menu, then Close My Account. At the 
bottom of the page, click Send Us an Email, fill out the form, and send. 

Smaller Sites 

Most reputable websites will offer some sort of account deletion option. 
Smaller sites that have posted (or more likely, reposted) your data without your 



P0PULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 79 



permission can prove more difficult; after all, the owners never had your permission 
to republish your blog posts, photos, or videos in the first place. Finding this type of 
information— or derogatory and misrepresentative comments about you— is no 
more difficult than doing a search on Google or Bing. (Be sure to place quotation 
marks around your name.) 

Searching for yourself isn't about narcissism; it's not unusual for job recruiters, 
current employers, or even potential dates to vet new acquaintances on search 
engines. A misleading search result or libelous information could cause serious dis- 
tress and do damage to your reputation. 

On a smaller site, sending a direct request to a webmaster to pull infringing or 
upsetting material is your best course of action. If there is no prominently listed con- 
tact information for the site's operator, or if you aren't able to get a response from 
the listed address or phone number, you can find direct contact information for the 
site's administrator by conducting a search on whois.net. Domain owners are 
required by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to supply 
contact information for Whois searches, including a phone number. This may at least 
get you on the phone with someone or give you a working email address. Whether 
that will be of any help is a different story. 

If a site refuses to take down content that belongs to you, you can try sending a 
takedown notice. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), you are enti- 
tled to have infringing content— images, text, or video that you own, specifically- 
taken down. There are a number of forms available online for submitting DMCA 
notices to Internet hosting companies; there are even forms for asking Google, 
Yahoo, and Bing to remove content from their search results. While these forms 
don't guarantee cooperation, the mere threat of legal action will at least be enough 
to get a site owner's attention. If your DMCA notice doesn't get a response, it 
might be time to talk to a lawyer. 



The Data That Won't Die 

It's easy to tell when your data has 

been removed from public display; if you 
can't find it anymore, then it's effectively 
gone. Finding out whether or not a com- 
pany is still holding your data privately— 
or selling it to third parties— may be 
impossible. "There's no way to verify that 
your information has been deleted," 
Jeschke says, nor is there an overarching 
law or regulation governing data reten- 
tion. Some data simply can't be 
reclaimed; you relinquished control the 
moment you hit Submit, afteryou clicked 
past that 50-page license agreement. 

This is a valuable lesson, and while it 
might not help you seize full control of 
your online identity, it's instructive. When 
you sign up with a service, make sure 
you trust its parent company and under- 
stand what data you're giving up. To sign 
up with Google or Facebook is to sell 
yourself in a literal way; as an astute (and 
anonymous) poster on the news site 
M eta Filter wrote, "If you are not paying 
for it, you're not the customer; you're the 
product being sold." pm 



□ 



SECURITY BLANKETS 



CHOOSING AN ONLINE PRIVACY TOOL 



Leaving the Internet isn't for everyone, but staying doesn't have to mean giving up on privacy and data security. 
Here are three tools to give you online peace of mind, from the somewhat discreet to the ultra-secure. 



PRIVACY TOOLS 



PRIVATE BRO WSIN6 

This feature is included in most new 

Internet browsers and goes by a few 

different titles: Private mode, 

Incognito mode, and InPrivate. All 

these names are a bit of an overreach: 

This mode only prevents Web 

browsers from collecting history and 

cookies. It keeps other users of your 

computer from seeing what you've 

been doing (buying gifts being the 

most palatable example); it won't 

shield your IP address or existing 

cookies from external sites. 



VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORKS 

Paid virtual private network (VPN) 

services route your Internet traffic 

through an intermediary, masking your 

computer's address from the sites you 

visit. Sites will, however, still be able 

to deposit tracking cookies on your 

computer, and your browser will still 

be prone to exploits and viruses. VPNs 

reroute all Internet traffic on your 

computer, not just from Web 

browsers, which makes them popular 

with file sharers. Reputable services 

include WiTopia and Blacklogic. 



COCOON (GETCOCOON.COM) 

This service is a plug-in for the free 

Firefox browser that combines the 

advantages of private browsing and a 

VPN with extra security features. 

Traffic is routed through remote 

servers and made anonymous, and all 

incoming files— downloads or 
websites— are scanned for viruses and 

malware. Other features include 

throwaway email addresses for spam 

prevention, and full portability, so you 

can access your Cocoon account from 

other computers. 



SECURITY EVALUATION 




I I I i I I I I 
MINIMAL 



MODERATE 

I ! I I 1 J J ! 5 1 I 





80 JANUARY 2012 | 



ECHANICS.COM 



Digital Clinic 

by John Herrman 






Cleaning 
Your Gadgets 

As someone who likes to keep things tidy, 
I find my grimy electronics collection is 
an embarrassment. How can I clean my 
gadgets without damaging them? 



According to a study by 
the London School of 
Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, 
92 percent of tested cell- 
phones were contaminated 
with potentially harmful bac- 
teria, and one in six tested 
positive for E. coli, most 
likely originating from— yep, 
everybody does it— bath- 
room phone fiddling. But you 
don't need a microscope to 
know that gadgets are filth 
magnets. Dust and grease 
accumulate on screens with 
frightening speed. Hairs and 
crumbs find cracks, seams, 
and nooks with deadly 
accuracy. Once-gleaming 
surfaces fall victim to discol- 
orations of mysterious prov- 
enance. Clean gadgets look 
nice, of course. Sterile gad- 
gets could help you through 
cold season. 

First things first: Barring a 
few specialty items, most of 
the things you need to clean 
your electronics are either 
already in your home or avail- 
able at a hardware store. 
"Electronics cleaning cloths" 
and "electronics cleaner" 
solutions are rebranded, 
overpriced variations on 
conventional household 
products. Most of your gad- 
get cleaning can be done 
with three tools: microfiber 
chamois or pure cotton 
cloths, distilled water, and 
isopropyl alcohol. 

Cleaning any screen 
should start with a light, dry 
wipe down with a microfiber 
cloth. (It's best to avoid paper 
towels, which are more abra- 
sive and prone to dragging 
particulate dirt across the 



PHOTOGRAPH BY DEVON JARVIS 



P0PULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 81 



^^ 



Tech DIGITAL CLINIC Q+A 



screen, scratching its coating.) Once 
the screen is dusted, soak a fresh 
chamois in distilled water— hard tap 
water will leave streaks— squeeze it 
out, and run it across the screen from 
one side to the other. At the end of 
every second or third stroke, refold the 
cloth so that a clean portion is touch- 
ing the screen. A cloth tainted with 
abrasive debris will do more harm 
than good. Wipe any beaded water 
dry with a fresh cloth. For stubborn fin- 
ger smudges or layers of tar deposited 
by smoke, a 50/50 mix of isopropyl 
alcohol and distilled water will cut 
through almost anything without 
being so corrosive as to damage the 
screen. One caveat: Some portable 
gadgets, such as the iPhone and iPad, 
have special self-cleaning, or oleopho- 
bic, screen coatings that can be dam- 
aged by alcohol. With those devices, 
stick to water. In all cases, keep clear 
of the very edges of the screens, which 
are dangerous entry points for mois- 
ture. Instead, use a dry cotton swab to 
remove dirt from recessed edges. 

This 50/50 alcohol mix is a do-it-all 
cleaning fluid: Wipe it over keyboards, 
mice, remotes, and other plastic and 
metal surfaces to quickly kill bacteria 
and cut dirt and grease buildup. To 
clear hard-to-reach dust and debris- 
take a good, hard look between your 
keyboard's keys— get a can of com- 
pressed air, which will blast free all but 
the most stubborn particles. You can 
buy it at any office retailer for about 
$10. But keep the can upright— using 
compressed air upside down will spray 
your gadgets with a mist of difluoro- 
ethane, a liquid fluorocarbon. 

One device that deserves spe- 
cialty equipment is your camera. 



Got a technology problem? 

Ask John about it. Send your ques- 
tions to pmdigitalclinic@jhearst.com. 
While we cannot answer 
questions individually, problems 
of general interest will be 
discussed in the column. £\ 



Cleaning a lens with a contaminated cloth or a shirtsleeve can degrade delicate lens 
coatings, so invest in Lenspen ($15), which has a concave chamois tip treated with lens 
polish, or a similar product. These lens cleaners also come with retractable antistatic 
brushes for cleaning dust from image sensors; theyjust so happen to be great tools for 
clearing ventilation grilles in laptops, desktop computers, and game consoles. 

TOO Real for TV © My new TV is great, with one catch: Some movies look 
weird. Something about the motion is strange, almost as if the movie is animated. 
What's going on? 

Most films are recorded at 24 frames per second, while TV is usually recorded at 
60 frames per second— more faithful to human vision, but less cinematic-looking. What's 
causing the effect is something called motion interpolation, which takes low-frame-rate 
content and converts it to higher frame rates by inserting computer-synthesized frames 
in between real ones. To turn off this feature, you'll have to figure out what it's called: 
Sony's version is MotionFlow, Vizio's is MEMC, LG's goes by the name TruMotion, Sam- 
sung labels it Auto Motion, and Toshiba's is ClearScan. 

That's not to imply that high frame rates are inherently bad. In fact, Peter Jackson is 
filming his upcoming adaptation of The Hobbit at 48 frames per second, and James 
Cameron plans to shoot the sequels to Avatar at high frame rates as well. As he 
explained at a Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards panel in October, "Being able to 
show movies at 48 or 60 frames a second would really improve the way they look. We've 
adapted to flow frame rates], and we expect movies to look the way they do, but every 
time you pan the camera, the whole image strobes." Take heed: In movie technology, 
where Cameron goes, many others will follow. pm 



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P0PULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 83 



Home 



Simply Perfect 

THIS EASY-TO-BUILD TWO-DOOR CABINET 
CLEARS CLUTTER AND SPRUCES UP A ROOM. 

BY JOSEPH TRUINI 



► One basic thing can make the 
difference between a room looking 
cluttered or put-together: storage. Of 
course, getting rid of excess stuff also 
helps. But even after you've pared 
down your possessions, having an 
attractive place to stash essential 
items is key. Enter the two-door cabi- 
net, a minimalist solution that's been 
around for centuries. Our take on the 
classic fits just about anywhere, and its 
panels can be made from a variety of 
materials— metal mesh, glass, or wall- 
papered plywood, for example— to suit 
your decorative palette. Like many PM 
projects, this one is simple; a reason- 
ably skilled woodworker with a small 
table saw, cordless drill, and pocket- 
screw kit could build it over the course 
of two weekends, max. Here's how. 



1 




■■■■■■■■■■ 
■■■■■■■I 

■■■■■■■■■ 
■■■■■■■■■■ 





PHOTOGRAPH BY SETH SMOOT 



84 JANUARY 2012 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



0^ 



TWO-DOOR CABINET 



Cabinet Case and Doors 

© Start by cutting the birch plywood 
for the cabinet sides, top, bottom, 
shelves, and cleats. I used a table saw, 
but a circular saw and a straightedge 
guide would also do the trick. 

Next, cut the rabbets on the inside 
edges of the side panels with a router 
and a 3 /s-inch rabbeting bit [1]. When 
that's done, use a drill to bore the shelf- 
peg holes in the side panels [2]. 

Use a pocket-hole jig to make the 
screw holes in the bottom of the cabi- 
net, then fasten the bottom to the sides 
[3]. Screw the cleats between the two 
side panels [4], and complete the case 
box by cutting the back panel to size 
and nailing it in place. 

Four pieces of wood make up the 
face frame. Rip and crosscut these 
pieces, then glue and nail them to the 
case using a pneumatic pin nailer and 
23-gauge headless pins [5]. Put the 
hardwood edging on the plywood top 
panel using the same method. Now 
place the cabinet top— made of material 
such as maple-faced and -trimmed ply- 
wood—in position, and drive screws 
through the cleats into its bottom [6]. 

Rip and crosscut the pieces for the 
doorframes and— again using the router 
and rabbeting bit— cut the panel rabbet 
on the inside edges of the frame. 

Bore a pair of pocket-screw holes at 
the end of each door rail, then drive the 
screws. Wipe some carpenter's glue 
onto a maple pocket-screw plug and 
insert one into each hole. 

Now it's time to choose the panels 
you'll use. Cut metal-mesh panels to 
size with aviation snips, slip them into 
the rabbets, and secure with screen 
molding nailed to the doorframe (see 
Panel Discussion). If, on the other hand, 
you use 1 /4-inch plywood covered with 
wallpaper (see preceding page), secure 
the panel with glass-door retainer clips 
(rockler.com). Regardless of the panel 
material, keep in mind that you may 
need to adjust the rabbet depth and 
width to suit. For thin panels, we found 
that a rabbet that's % inch deep and % 
inch wide works pretty well. 





[ 1 ] Clamp two 
panels together for 
a wider surface and 
rout the rabbet for 
the back and side 
panels. 

[ 2 ] Use a portable 
drill guide and bore 
the holes for the 
shelf pins in the 
cabinet sides. 
[ 3 ] Bore four 
pocket-screw holes 
in the bottom, then 
drive pocket screws 
through the bottom 
into the cabinet 
sides. 

[4] Cut the cleats 
to fit between the 
cabinet sides, and 
drive countersunk 
screws through the 
side into the ends of 
the cleats. 
[5] Simply glue and 
nail the face frame 
to the front cleat, 
the cabinet sides, 
and the bottom 
shelf. 

[ 6 ] The top consists 
of a plywood panel 
and three maple 
edging strips 
dimensioned to drop 
down onto the 
cabinet; it partially 
covers the top face 
frame rail, which is 
% inch wider than 
the other face frame 
parts. Set the top on 
the cabinet and 
drive screws up 
through the cleats 
into it. 



PHOTOGRAPHS BY DENNIS KLEIMAN 



P0PULARMECHANICS.COM 



JANUARY 2012 85 



Fasten two self-closing cabinet-door hinges to each door, then lay the cabinet on 
its back and set the doors on the face frame. Center the doors on the cabinet with a 
Va-inch space between them. Bore pilot holes through the hinges into the face frame 
and screw the hinges to the frame. 

Finishing Touches 

© Set a clothes iron at high (cotton), with no steam, and apply iron-on maple veneer 
banding to the front of each shelf. Firmly rub the veneer with a wood block to secure 
the bond. After the veneer has cooled, use scissors and a sanding block, respectively, to 
cut and hone the veneer to fit. 



Rll nail holes with wood putty, let dry, 
then lightly sand all surfaces with 120- 
grit sandpaper. Wipe off dust with a tack 
cloth, and apply two coats of satin poly- 
urethane varnish. If you'd prefer to stain 
the cabinet, apply two coats, wait for 
them to dry, then apply varnish. 

Press metal shelf pegs into the 
holes in the cabinet sides, then set the 
shelves in place. pm 



%"xl%"xl8%" %"x4"x30%" 



EH I JiH'IH.HtiH 

%" x 17%" x 32" %" x 1%" x 33%" 





mmam 

" x 2" x 32%" 



" x 2" x 10 13 /i 6 " 



„ 11%" x 29" 



% n xl5%"x30%." 
%"xl5%"x30%" 

JUM'A 

14" x 31%" x 33" 



FACE FRAME, 
BOTTOM RAIL 



" x 1%" x 29" 
%" x 16" x 35%" 



Panel 
Discussion 



A Solid: Set the panel into a rabbet cut 
on the door's back and secure it with 
glass-door retainer clips (rockler.com) 
held with screws. 

B Metal mesh: Secure the panel with 
%" x W beaded screen trim. Drive 
wire brads or pneumatic headless pins 
through the molding's side or front. 




ILLUSTRATIONS BY GEORGE RETSECK 



86 JANUARY 2012 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



Homeowners Clinic 



by Roy Berendsohn 



QA 



) 




Sit Tight 



At least half of the wood chairs we 
own are wobbly. We've tried every 
adhesive we can think of to fix 
them— white glue, yellow glue, epoxy, polyurethane. Nothing 
seems to work. What do you suggest we do? 




It takes a 
stubby drill 
driver or a 
right-angle 
attachment 
to install a 
pocket screw 
between a 
chair's parts. 
Save space 
by inserting 
the bit directly 
in the chuck 
rather than in 
a magnetic bit 
holder. 



A Glue alone won't work. It's natu- 
ral to think that it would do the 
job— like most homeowners, you 
squirted some glue into a loose joint 
and hoped for the best. But unfortu- 
nately, applying a thick glob of adhesive 
is actually counterproductive. Wood 
adhesives work best when you apply a 
thin film of the sticky stuff to both sides 
of a joint, then use pressure to force 
the parts together. Furthermore, you 
almost always have to rebuild thejoint, 
reinforce it, or disassemble it and 
remove adhesives from previous 
repairs to get it to fit properly. 

Let's take a closer look at this. For 
a chair to be moved around easily, 
it has to be lightly built Yet the 
loads a chair accommodates 
are severe. A chair may 
weigh 10 pounds, but it 
has to support a person 
10 times or more its own 
weight. And that person 
is a highly dynamic load. 
He or she may sit, stand, 
twist, or shift on the chair, 
putting its joints and parts 
through strenuous cycles. 
Compare that with cabinets, 
chests, and dressers. This furni- 
ture is overbuilt relative to the 
weight it holds. A chest or dresser can 
easily weigh 50 to 100 pounds yet 
hold less than 30 pounds of clothing. 
Aside from sliding drawers, most of 
the time the load is stationary. You 
can see why chair joints fail, some- 
times catastrophically. 

One relatively easy solution for 
chairs that have only one loose joint is 
to bore a pocket hole in a discreet 
ocation, spread a thin film of 
professional-quality wood glue on the 
loose parts, and then drive a pocket 
screw to lock thejoint together. I've 



PHOTOGRAPHS BY DEVON JARVIS 



P0PULARMECHANICS.COM 



JANUARY 2012 87 



done this to a couple of chairs in my house, and I've been pleased with how well the 
repair has stood up. 

This technique won't work if there's adhesive from a previous repair on thejoint; it 
creates an undesirable surface on which to spread new glue. And this works only for 
chairs with parts that are thick enough or wide enough to withstand the amount of 
wood that is removed when a pocket hole is bored. Finally, don't use this method on 
an antique; you could diminish its value. 

With a chair that has a number of severely loose joints, label all the parts with 
masking tape, then disassemble them using a clamp with a reversible jaw, known as 
a spreader. After you have the parts separated, carefully scrape away the dried adhe- 
sive, then repair, rebuild, and reinforce the joints. Finally, reassemble the chair using 
professional-quality wood glue. If you're not an experienced woodworker, take a 
course at a community college or craft center before undertaking this project. 

S66ing Spots Where I live in the Southwest, my lawn sprinklers leave 
tough, spotty residue on my basement windows. I've tried glass cleaners, 
carbonated soft drinks, vinegar, and acid-based cleaners that are supposed to 
remove mineral scale. Nothing works. What else can I try? 

I'd try Spot-X Hard Water Stain & Spot Remover, a cleaner formulated to mechani- 
cally (not chemically) remove mineral residue from hard surfaces such as glass, 
mirrors, porcelain, and chrome. Its gentle abrasive action is by means of powdered 
walnut shell, specifically the Juglans regia, or English (European) walnut. An 
8.75-ounce bottle with a synthetic applicator pad costs about $12 plus shipping. In 
the meantime, you may want to swap those sprinkler heads or adjust their pattern 
so that they don't spray the windows. Consider it a few ounces of prevention. 



ROCk On I'm a part-time farmer 
in Illinois and regularly deal with rock 
removal. I'd appreciate any informa- 
tion on how I can do this better. 

Several years ago, we took a crash 
course in rock removal by trying out two 
new technologies ("How to Blow Up a 
Rock in 6 Steps," at popularmechanics 
.com). One was the Micro-Blaster, a 
small-scale setup that you don't need 
a license to use. You take a rotary ham- 
mer and drill into a rock, clean the dust 
and debris out of the hole, and insert a 
Micro-Blaster cartridge or two into the 
opening. A pneumatic firing pin deto- 
nates the charge. It works like a charm. 
(Don't forget eye and ear protection.) 
You can get Micro-Blaster kits through 
specialty supply houses that sell to 
construction and mining companies. 

We also had good results with a new 
type of rental rock-cutting saw made by 
Husqvama. Called the Cut-n-Break, it 
slices through rock and concrete the 
way a circular saw severs lumber. 








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Home HOMEOWNERS CLINIC Q+A 




PROBLEM SOLVED 



FIXING VENT-STACK LEAKS 




Plumbing vent stacks 
are a notorious source 
of roof leaks. The 
rubber boot at their 
base weathers away, 
leaving a gap that lets 
in melted snow and 
rain. The Perma-Boot 
($20) is a two-piece 
ABS plastic cover that 
neatly solves the 
problem. - r.b. 





Stepl 

Slip the hinged base 
over the weathered 
boot and adjust it to 
the roof slope. 



Step 2 

Slip the cap over the 
base and glue it on 
with the adhesive 
provided. 



After the fun of blasting and cutting is finished, you'll be left with the hard work of 
dragging away the rubble. Always remember that your pulling gear is no stronger 
than the proverbial weakest link, whether that's a Grade 30 chain with a working 
load limit of 4500 pounds or a piece of rope that breaks when stressed with an 
unknown amount of force. I learned the hard way how dangerous rock pulling can be. 
While dragging a boulder with a four-wheel-drive truck, I snapped a high-strength rope, 
which gave off a crack like a .22 rifle. But as startling as that was, it was nothing com- 
pared with how viciously the broken rope flew through the air. Onlookers dove for cover. 
Despite my carelessness, no one was hurt. The first rule in pulling heavy loads is to clear 
the area of bystanders. A rope that breaks and whips through the air is dangerous, but 
a flying piece of chain or hook, or a snapped steel cable, is downright deadly. 

Paint as YOU GO My husband and I are building a white picket fence to 
go in front of our house. I'm the painter in our family, and I'd like to be able to take 
the fence sections into the garage to paint. Can these be made removable? 

I think that's a good idea. Bolting the picket sections to the posts or crossrails would 
let you take them into the garage to paint when it's raining, for example. I would num- 
ber the sections to ensure they go back on the posts in the original position. 

You should use hot-dipped galvanized bolts to hold the fence sections to the posts. 
This will prevent rust stains caused by ordinary steel hardware from ruining your paint 
job. Hot-dipped means that the bolts, nuts, and washers are submerged in molten 



zinc, which bonds to the steel, creating an unmatched electrochemical and mechani- 
cal alloy layer. This bond makes the hardware highly corrosion-resistant. Other plating 
methods— such as tumbling fasteners in hot zinc particles— are not as effective. 

Repairing Granite We have a granite counter with a small chip. Is 
there a repair material that can fill the damage so that it won't be noticeable? 

You can fill in the damaged area, and it's likely that you'll be the only person who knows 
the counter has been repaired. Your best bet is to get a product such as the Natural 
Stone Repair Kit from Bonstone, a manufacturer of adhesives and fillers for stone, tile, 
and concrete. The kit includes three different-colored tints, adhesives, and application 
tools. You should be able to blend these materials to get a very close match. 

"The key when making a repair like this is to overfill the chipped area slightly, then 
slice off the excess while the material is still moist," according to Bonstone's Kevin 
Thorstad. "Use one of the razor blades from the kit, then let the area cure." 

The filler dries to a shiny finish; you don't have to polish it to match the surround- 
ing surface. A professional can apply a layer of cyanoacrylate glue (superglue) to the 
surface of the repair after it's dry and polish the entire counter to blend it in. Perfec- 
tion will cost you, though. It always does. Expect to pay anywhere from a couple of 
hundred dollars up to $500. A repair kit, on the other hand, costs less than $40. 

Wobbly Sump Pump I've got a basement where the sump pump runs 
constantly. The pump wobbles around in the pit and makes a racket. Does it harm 
the pump to move around? Also, what can I do to make it quieter? 

A little vibration is one thing, but a pump shouldn't wiggle like a bowl of Jell-O. You 
may need to replace the pump or just install it better. More about that in a moment. 
The fact that it runs constantly may be a bad sign. It may be cycling the water, not 
removing it. Be sure the pipe leading from the pump discharges as far as possible 
from the foundation; ditto for your gutter downspouts. Finally, the ground around 
the house should slope away on all sides. 

The movement (and noise) probably indicate that the pump is worn out. Also, if the 
pump isn't supported properly, that will certainly cause it to shake, rattle, and roll, and 
that's liable to be transmitted to the discharge pipe and to the house's framing. The 
pump should be sitting on the bottom of the sump, not perched atop a pile of bricks or 
rocks. I fished out a sump pump once and found it was sitting on a pile of garbage. 
I guess the guy who put it in cut the first length of discharge pipe too short and simply 
propped up the pump on whatever was lying on the basement floor at the time. I 
discovered chunks of concrete, rotted lumber, plumbing scraps, and slimy stuff that 
I couldn't even identify. You may have to roll up your sleeves, get down on your belly, 
reach into the black lagoon, and grope around. If the sump bottom is just mud, obvi- 
ously that's no good either. In that case, line the bottom with washed %-inch gravel. 

That leaves the noise. Consider a high-quality pump, especially a cast-iron model, 
such as a Zoeller. These are inherently quiet because they're robustly built. You 
should secure the discharge pipe with 
brackets where it passes along the wall 
and floor framing— maybe even isolate 
the pipe and brackets with rubber strips 
to dampen vibration. Finally, locate the 
check valve on the discharge pipe as 
close to the pump as you can. Putting 
it faraway causes a large slug of water 
to reenter when the pump shuts off. 
That could be enough water to reacti- 
vate the pump. pm 



Got a home-maintenance or 
repair problem? Ask Roy about it 
Send your questions to 
pmhomecl inic@jhearst.com or to 
Homeowners Clinic, Popular Mechanics, 
300 W. 57th St., New York, 
NY 10019-5899. While we cannot 
answer questions individually, 
problems of general interest will ^^ 
be discussed in the column. KJ 



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90 JANUARY 2012 | P0PULARMECHANICS.COM 




«•-» 



3 



and some simple wiring make up this 
rugged touch-activated lamp. 






PHOTOGRAPHS BY DOUGLAS ADESKO 



^fffr- 



Home PM SATURDAY 



%-inch iron pipe and fittings make 
this stable, rugged lamp. Get a 
12-inch nipple, three tee fittings, 
four 90-degree elbows, one 
45-degree elbow, 11 close 
nipples, four pipe caps, a 
candelabra socket, a cord, a bulb, 
a worklight's shade, and a 
touch-dimmer switch. Use a 
cobalt bit to drill a 3 /s-inch hole in 
a tee, opposite its center opening. 
Pull 18 inches of cord through the 
hole and the tee's center opening. 

2 ■> I^MJJlliUllMl Screw 

together the 12-inch nipple, the 



45-degree elbow fitting, and a 
close nipple. Fish the lamp cord 
through this assembly. Screw the 
open end of the 12-inch nipple 
into the drilled tee fitting's 
opening. 



Wire the lamp socket base to the 
cord at the nontee end of the 
12-inch nipple. Make sure all 
electrical connections are 
insulated and not touching pipe. 
Gently pull the cord from its plug 
end, tightening up slack until the 
lamp socket base is even with the 
nipple's edge. Use a hose clamp 



to clip the worklight's shade to 
the 45-degree elbow. 

4 -» BHJUl^B Assemble 
the lamp base using two tees, 
four 90-degree elbows, and 10 
close nipples. Insert nipples into 
the openings of the tee and elbow 
fittings. Finger-tighten the 
connections. To make feet, screw 
the pipe-cap fittings to the 
nipples. 



GHT THE PIPES 



Screw in a bulb. Plug the cord into 
the touch dimmer and plug it into 
an outlet. Hit a pipe to turn it on. 



■ I -, 

Ills 



L 

Be Prepared to 
Solder + Earn 
the Boy Scouts' 
new Robotics 
merit badge at a 
workshop Jan. 8 
with Chibots, a 
Schaumburg, III., 
shop. Scouts 
learn to program 
sensors, take 
measurements, 
and maintain an 
engineering 
notebook. 

Shovel Safely 
■> Snow shoveling 
sends 11,500 
folks to the ER 
annually. "Don't 
throw the snow," 
Michigan physical 
therapist Jeff 
Smith says. Just 
squat, choke 
down on the 
shovel, and push 
small scoops. 

Carve Powder 
+ Help make the 
icy bricks used for 
the Budweiser 
International 
Snow Sculpture 
Championships 
during the 
contest's 
Technical Week, 
Jan. 16 to 20, 
in Breckenridge, 
Colo. See 
finished art 
Jan. 30 to Feb. 4. 

Attract Winter 
Birds ■> Use 
your discarded 
Christmas tree as 
a bird feeder. Set 
it against the 
south side of the 
house in a bucket 
of sand. Put bird- 
seed and berries 
on branches near 
the trunk. Enjoy 
songbirds, then 
in the spring, 
mulch the tree. 

Learn to Be 
Handy ■> Bay 

Area homeown- 
ers pick up the 
basics of drywall 
patching, lock 
replacement, 
faucet installa- 
tion, and window 
repair from local 
pros at Berkeley, 
Calif.'s Building 
Education Center 
on Jan. 8 and 9. 




ill rijjj 







Free cleft surgery which takes 
as little as 45 minutes and costs 
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Donate online: www.smiletrain.org or call: 1-800-932-9541 

SmileTrain 

- x( Changing I lw Wui Id ( )ih- Smile \l \ lime. 

According to the U.S. Government, women should take sufficient levels of folic acid (400 micrograms/day) during pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects and reduce the 
risk for cleft lip and palate. When folic acid is taken one month before conception and throughout the first trimester, Unas been proven to reduce the risk for neural tube defects 
by 50 to 70 percent. Be sure to receive proper prenatal care, quit smoking and drinking alcohol and follow your health care provider's guidelines for foods to avoid during 
pregnancy. Foods to avoid may include raw or undercooked seafood, beef, pork or poultry; delicatessen meats; fish that contain high levels of mercury; smoked seafood; fisn 
exposed to industrial pollutants; raw shellfish or eggs; soft cheeses; unpasteurized milk; pate; caffeine; and unwashed vegetables. For more information, visit www.SmileTrain.org. 
Smile Train is a 501 (cK3) nonprofit recognized by thelRS, and all donations to Smile Train are tax-deductible in accordance with IRS regulations. © 201 2 Smile Train. 




P0PULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 93 



Auto 



Saturday 
Mechanic 



Running on 
(Natural) Gas 



WHAT GOES INTO A NATURAL GAS VEHICLE, AND DOES CONVERTING 
YOURS MAKE SENSE? BY BEN WOJDYLA 



■ Natural gas has been used in our 
homes for generations. Americans 
use it to run water heaters, home 
furnaces, stoves, clothes dryers, and 
other appliances. As a fuel it accounts 
for 24 percent of our total energy con- 
sumption nationwide, all but 1 per- 
cent in residential applications. And as 
we reported last fall ("Drilling Down," 
September 2011), new fracking tech- 
niques are tapping domestic reserves 
that previously were not economically 
viable. Vast global supplies are 
projected to last well into the next 
century even if natural gas replaces 
gasoline completely. So it should be 
no surprise that natural gas will 
remain incredibly cheap. It runs at 
one-half to one-third the current cost 
of gasoline on an energy-equivalent 
measure. In a properly tuned engine, 
natural gas combustion delivers 
20 percent lower carbon emissions 
and about a 25 percent reduction in 
greenhouse gases compared with the 
cleanest gasoline engines, all without 



This is no ordinary minivan. It's a Dodge Caravan converted to run on 

gasoline and natural gas. The high-pressure fueling line can make fill-ups 

as fast as gasoline and cheaper too— but things are complicated. 




PHOTOGRAPHS BY MICHAEL NEMETH 



94 JANUARY 2012 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM 
AutO CNG CONVERSION 



0fr 



damaging existing catalytic converter 
systems. So right about now you're 
probably wondering: Why aren't we 
putting this stuff in our cars? 

As it turns out, there are very few 
technological barriers to overcome. In 
fact, converting existing vehicles to 
burn natural gas isn't par- 
ticularly challenging. Unfor- 
tunately, if you tried to do it 
yourself, you'd more than 
likely run afoul of the Clean 
Air Act's rules against mod- 
ifying fuel systems— a viola- 
tion that could cost you up 
to $5000 in fines for every 
day you drive the converted 
vehicle. So if you want to 
green your wheels today, 
the only way to do it is by 
hiring a certified com- 
pressed-natural-gas (CNG) 
installer to do the job. To 
get the skinny on aftermar- 
ket CNG systems, I visited 
NatGasCar in Cleveland. It's 
a startup shop that aug- 
ments gasoline cars by 
installing a parallel natural 
gas fuel system. They 
showed me their latest 
creation, a dual-fuel Dodge 
Caravan intended for air- 
port taxi service. It starts 
on gasoline and switches 
over to natural gas once 
the engine warms up. 

NatGasCar's biggest 
component is also its most 
crucial and expensive— the 
compressed-natural-gas 
fuel tank situated behind 
the rear seats in the cargo 
area. The company uses a 
Type 4 tank, the most 
advanced kind. It reduces 
weight with a plastic com- 
posite core wrapped in car- 
bon fiber and is rated for 
severe impact and punc- 
ture resistance. 

Between the tank and 
the engine is the fuel regu- 



lator, which reduces the fuel-tank pressure of 3600 psi to a usable 125 psi deliv- 
ered to the engine. The fuel regulator is heated to prevent freezing from the 
expansion of the gas. The lower-pressure gas travels to the engine, Chrysler's 
flex-fuel-capable PentastarV-6. A flex-fuel engine is important, since it has hard- 
ened valves and valve seats, which are necessary for CNG operation. The natural 
gas is routed through a parallel fuel rail, and a second set of injectors is plugged 
into a clever adapter designed to accommodate both the gasoline and CNG injec- 




All CNG tanks must withstand the same standards for impact and puncture 
resistance as an under-car gasoline fuel tank while also vastly exceeding the strength requirements. 
There are four types of tanks, each lighter and more expensive than the next. Type I is an all-metal tank, 
generally steel or aluminum. Type II is a thinner metal tank wrapped around the middle with a fiberglass 
or carbon composite. Type III is a thinner metal tank fully wrapped in composite. Type IV is a plastic 
tank fully wrapped in carbon-fiber composite— very lightweight, but it comes at a hefty price. 






P0PULARMECHANICS.COM I JANUARY 2012 95 



tors on the same injection port. Natural gas runs at an ideal air-fuel ratio of about 
16.8:1, whereas gasoline runs happily at 14.6:1 for the Pentastar engine. As a result, 
the programming for the new injectors has to be slightly different. NatGasCar's wir- 
ing harness intercepts the signals from the engine-control module and, depending 
upon which fuel is selected, turns on either the gasoline or the CNG injectors. The 
signals bound for the gasoline injectors are modified to deliver the appropriate 
amount of fuel to the natural gas injectors. This way, very little fine tuning is neces- 



sary, and the car's engine-control unit 
does most of the work. 

Fueling Woes 

© So a new fuel tank and a little bit of 
tinkering with the fuel injectors and I'm 
ready to go, right? Unfortunately not. 




3E!EMaH! 







WHAT YOU'LL 
NEED FOR A 

ATURAL GAS 
CONVERSION 



It doesn't take much gas. Attached to the then fed to a parallel plugs into the factory which slightly alters 



I 



besides a new fuel 
tank to convert a 
gasoline-burning 
engine to one that 
also runs on natural 



fuel tank [1] is the 
regulator [2], which 
reduces tank 
pressure from 3600 
psi to 125 psi. Fuel is 



fuel rail [3] and to 
new, secondary 
injectors plugged 
into an adapter [4]. 
A wiring harness [5] 



engine-control unit 
and intercepts 
throttle information, 
sending it to a new 
fueling computer [6], 



the data and passes 
it to the CNG 
injectors [7] through 
a parallel wiring 
harness [8]. 



96 JANUARY 2012 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM 
AutO CNG CONVERSION 



0fr 



Natural gas is delivered 
across the country to mil- 
lions of homes. But what 
would seem to be the ideal 
distribution network is actu- 
ally the biggest headache of 
natural gas vehicles. Home 
natural gas is delivered at 
about 0.5 psi, but natural 
gas in vehicles needs to be 
pressurized to 3600 psi. So 
if you want to use CNG in 
your car, you'll need a com- 
pressor. A National Fire Pro- 
tection Association safety 
standard bans compressed 
gas storage in homes, so a 
stand-alone multistage com- 
pressor pump in the garage 
must be hooked up to the 
vehicle's fuel tank, filling it 
directly. This leads to fueling 
times of up to 22 hours 
(even longer than equivalent 
home charging times for electric vehi- 
cles). Honda's Civic Natural Gas is paired 
with a home compressor system called 
Phill ($4500), the only commercially 
available product of its kind. NatGasCar 
is developing a compressor system 
capable of 8-hour fill-ups; the current 
target price is $3500. Some states 
have incentivized the installation of 
high-speed filling systems at gas sta- 
tions, where fill times are as brief as 4 
to 5 minutes, much like gasoline's. But 
these systems cost $750,000 per sta- 
tion to install, and low demand means 
there are only 941 high-pressure CNG 
filling stations scattered across the 
country, mostly in New York, California, 
Utah, and Texas. 




Two fuel rails and 
two sets of fuel 
injectors feed the 
same port in the 
intake. The com- 
puter starts the 
car on gasoline, 
then switches to 
natural gas when 
the engine is 
warm. The indica- 
tor button below is 
the only clue that 
this car runs CNG. 



Economics 

© Okay, okay, it's a pain to fuel CNG vehicles, but is it worth it? Nationwide, natural 
gas ranges from 79 cents to $1.50 for a gasoline gallon equivalent (gge) of fuel. That's 
considerable savings over petroleum-based products, especially considering that CNG 
vehicles get the same or better relative fuel economy per Btu because of the higher 
octane rating of natural gas. Our test drives indicated no hit to performance, and a 
perfectly acceptable range of about 250 miles. But there are some pretty extraordi- 
nary initial setup costs. A propedy installed conversion will run anywhere from $6500 
for a basic system to $12,000 for a top-of-the-line installation with a high-capacity, 
composite fuel tank. If you want a home fueling compressor, tack on another $3500 
minimum. Even at the low end, you're looking at spending enough on the conversion 
to buy more than 1800 gallons of gasoline at today's prices. 

Those prices will ultimately determine the fate of CNG vehicles. High gasoline 
prices historically have caused furious investment in cheaper, cleaner fuels, followed 
by a collapse in demand when gas prices fall. For now, CNG has a high price of entry 
that makes it viable only for taxi services and other fleet operators, but over time, 
economies of scale may bring down the costs for the ordinary car buyer. And if gaso- 
line stays above $3 a gallon, that change may come sooner rather than later. pm 




As the name implies, natural gas is a naturally occurring fuel source and also a byproduct of 
petroleum extraction. In its raw state, natural gas can be extracted either pure or as a heady 
cocktail of methane, ethane, propane, butane, and pentane, as well as nitrogen, carbon dioxide, 
water vapor, and other compounds. Refineries strip away virtually everything in the mix, leaving 
methane as the primary component, with a few other compounds added. Methane is the simplest 
of carbon-based gases: just one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. As a result, it's also clean 
burning, with combustion resulting in one carbon-dioxide molecule and four water molecules, 
lower greenhouse emissions than any other fuel except hydrogen. 




.COM I JANUARY 2012 97 



I'm going to be rotating the 
tires on my 2011 Chevy 
Malibu, and since this will 
be my first time doing it, 
I'm wondering about 
the tire-pressure monitoring system. Are there any special steps 
I need to take so the correct readings come up on my display? 



A That all depends on 
what kind of system is 
installed in your car. Some 
background: Tire-pressure 
monitoring systems (TPMS) 
will become standard start- 
ing with all 2012 cars, a 
result of the Firestone/Ford 
Explorer rollover fiasco in 
2000. These systems are 
designed to alert drivers to 
changes in tire pressure 
while the vehicle is in motion. 
Despite mandating the mon- 
itors, the government didn't 
set standards for how they 
should be designed, calibrat- 
ed, or rolled out to the public, 
so automakers have devel- 
oped different measurement 
methods. One option is indi- 
rect, wherein the vehicle's 
computer compares the 
ground speed against how 
fast each wheel is turning. If 
one tire has less pressure 
than the others, the outside 
diameter of that tire will be 
smaller and thus it will spin 
slightly faster. The computer 
algorithm infers the pressure 
based on the comparative 
wheel speed. The more wide- 
spread, and costly, option is 
a direct monitoring system, 
which uses an in-wheel mea- 
surement device. These 
monitors are much more 
accurate, with an electronic 
sensor directly measuring 
tire pressure and transmit- 
ting it wirelessly to an 
onboard detection system. 

These variations among 
systems lead to different 
service methods following tire rotation. 
For indirect systems, the driver doesn't 
need to do anything except drive 
around; the vehicle automatically fig- 
ures out the pressure. For direct moni- 
toring systems, there are three ways to 
reassign each tire to the correct corner. 
Typically, high-end cars do it automati- 
cally—convenience is a luxury, right? 
The second way is not so convenient: 
Take the car to the dealer so its wrench 
jockeys can use an electronic calibration 



PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL NEMETH 



98 JANUARY 2012 | POPULARMECHANICS.COM 



0fr 



AutO CAR CLINIC Q+A 



tool to do the job. Now we get to your 
situation. Most GM cars— such as your 
Malibu— use a teach-and-learn method. 
(Other manufacturers use similar meth- 
ods, but each has its own variations— 
for some, there are even magnets 
involved. It's best to consult the owner's 
manual or ask the dealer about how it's 
done.) After you've rotated your tires, 
put your car into learn mode by going 
into the vehicle setup screen on the 
dashboard. Select the tire-pressure- 
monitor reset. Next, following the direc- 
tions on the driver information center, 
start at the left front tire and deflate 
only a few psi; this forces the sensor to 
send an identifying signal to the system. 
After the computer has reassigned the 
tire, move in a clockwise direction 
around the car, reassigning the sensors 
in the same manner. 

Assault With Battery 

I have a 2007 BMW 525i that has 
about 65,000 miles on it. It won't 



be long until I need to replace the battery. The dealer says that I should let him 
do it so he can reset the computer's charging circuit. He says if I replace it 
myself, the battery won't charge properly. Can I do this myself and somehow 
reset the computer? 

Believe it or not, your dealer isn't pulling your leg, at least not much. Your BMW, 
being "ze ultimate driving machine," actually tracks the battery's charge and dis- 
charge cycles and predicts its usable life. When the car's computer decides that a 
battery is up for replacement, the driver gets a warning that can't be cleared unless 
a new battery is installed and the car is hooked up to a service tester at the BMW 
dealer. This registration process records the car's age and mileage and resets the 
battery-life monitor. This isn't to say you can't simply swap the battery yourself— you 
absolutely can— just know that the warning light will never go away and you'll be 



POPULAR MECHANICS (ISSN 0032-4558) 
is published monthly, 12 times a year by Hearst 
Communications, Inc., 300 West 57th Street, 
New York, NY 10019 U.S.A. Frank A. Bennack, Jr., 
Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of the 
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Bostron, Secretary; Ronald J. Doerfler, Senior Vice 
President and Treasurer; Steven R. Swartz, 
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating 
Officer. Hearst Magazines Division: David Carey, 
President; John P. Loughlin, Executive Vice 
President and General Manager; John A. Rohan, Jr., 
Senior Vice President, Finance. © 2011 by Hearst 
Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. Popular 
Mechanics is a registered trademark of Hearst 
Communications, Inc. Periodicals postage paid 
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P0PULARMECHANICS.COM | JANUARY 2012 99 



responsible for tracking when to 
replace the battery. For you non-BMW 
owners, or BMW cheapskates, be sure 
to keep a tally on the age of your bat- 
tery. It should be changed about every 
four years, as the internal chemical 
compounds degrade over time. 

Grease Monkey Driving my 

'04 Grand Prix, I keep my arm on the 
plastic ledge by the window rather 
than on the armrest. It's resulted in an 
oil buildup on the ledge. What's the 
best way to get this off without 
hurting the interior? 
My first suggestion is, of course, to 
wash your arm more often. With that 
out of the way, I recommend a two-part 
process to remove the buildup, which is 
common on plastic, vinyl, and leather in 
well-used cars. Much of the film can be 
removed with plain soap and water and 
a washcloth. This won't get you to a 
squeaky-clean, properly protected fin- 
ish, though. Anything in an auto store's 
potions aisle labeled as a cleaner and 
protectant will remove the remaining 
residue and leave behind a plastic- 
moisturizing conditioner to bring back 
the finish to almost showroom-new. 

Vacationing Cruise i own 

a 2001 Ford Explorer XLS. Last night 
I drove to a restaurant using the cruise 
control, and it worked fine. When I left 
the restaurant, I noticed the cruise 
was out of commission. The Speed 
Control light came on as if it were 
working, but it never kicked in to 
maintain speed. Any ideas about 
what might be going on ? 
First and foremost, if your Explorer is 



Got a car problem? 

Ask Ben about it Send your questions 
to pmautoclinic<a>hearst.com 
or over Twitter at twitter.com/Pop 
MechAuto or to Car Clinic, Popular 
Mechanics, 300 W. 57th St., New York, 
NY 10019-5899. While we cannot 
answer questions individually, 
problems of general interest will 
be discussed in the column. 



equipped with the 4.0-liter V-6, it was subject to a recall on the speed-control system 
because the control cables would bind and cause a slow return to idle when cruise 
was defeated. Make sure that recall has been taken care of before you go any further. 
As to your specific problem, it sounds like the cruise-control servo is the culprit rather 
than the computer. The servo motor is the electronic component attached to the 
throttle with pushrods or cables that hold the throttle in place when cruise control is 
active. Since the onboard diagnostic system isn't reporting a problem, it's likely the 
signal from the computer isn't producing the correct result from the cruise-control 
servo motor. Take a quick look at the part before replacing it, though. Sometimes 
cleaning and lubricating can correct this kind of problem. pm 




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104 JANUARY 2012 I P0PULARMECHANICS.COM 



This 
Is My 
Job 



OWhen he was a kid, Chris Southerly wanted to try 
scuba diving— but the mountains of Virginia, where 
he grew up, offered few opportunities. So Southerly 
learned to dive in grad school, and now it's how he makes 
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It's a whole other experience to hold it in your hand 
knowing that you're the first person to see or touch this 
object in nearly three centuries." - mary beth griggs 



UNDERWATER 
ARCHAEOLOGIST 




Name: CHRIS SOUTHERLY 
Location: WILM INGTON, N.C . 
Age: 44 
Years on Job: 1 1 



ESSENTIAL 
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FULL FACE MASK 
-» "In many cases the waters 
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After using sonar to identify 
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"Archaeology is a destructive 
science," Southerly says. "Once 
we dig it up, we can never put it 
back the way it was." Without 
context, artifacts are nearly 
worthless, so archaeologists 
document the site meticulously. 
Using stakes and synthetic 
decking boards, they create a 
5 x 5-foot grid on the seafloor, 
then map the location of the 
artifacts on waterproof paper. 

SLUICE 

Southerly uses a suction tube 
to remove small items from the 
wreck to a sluice, or artificial 
water channel, on the ship's 
deck. Sand and mud flow with 
the water until they are dis- 
charged at the end of the sluice, 
while heavier artifacts, such as 
nails or shotgun pellets, drop 
out of the flow into a separate 
channel, where they're identi- 
fied and labeled. Larger items 
are hoisted up with an electric 
winch after they've been tagged 
and mapped on the seafloor. 



PHOTOGRAPH BY NATHAN PERKEL 



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